News from the STEM Office
Posted on: November 26, 2013 08:00 EST by Sarah Durkin
Friday, November 22, 2013 was not a typical school day for 300 assorted elementary school students gathered together from local counties and Baltimore City at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. These 4th and 5th graders spent the day participating in science and engineering activities hosted by Naval Academy faculty and midshipmen, in collaboration with Maryland Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA).
33 USNA midshipmen and 4 faculty staged a full day of hands-on activities focused on navy-relevant topics such as robotics, hull design, fluids principles, underwater vehicles, materials properties, biofuels, polymers, properties of water, electrical circuits, and more, as well as mini engineering design competitions.
Students investigated buoyancy and hull design in the process of creating their own boats out of aluminum foil, competing to build a boat that could hold the most marbles.They learned the principles of engineering design while creating and launching rockets made out of straws, and building hoop gliders, spoon catapults and more. Students engaged in discovery as they investigated properties of water such as density and surface tension, learned about electrical circuits using conductive playdough, and made their own polymer "slime". They were challenged to program a robot to navigate a maze, and competed to design and modify an underwater glider that could travel the farthest. These and more activities excited the students about science and engineering.
One midshipman facilitator described the benefit of the event, as a way to inspire student interest in STEM, "A lot of kids have fantastic and innovative ideas, however, they rarely have the opportunity to stand out. Giving them the chance to compete and win hopefully gave them the confidence to stay with STEM."
At the end of the day, students and teachers described the experience as "the best field trip ever!" "The students were sharing things that they had learned during the bus rides back to their schools," said Paula Shelton, Executive Director of MD MESA, "They appreciated the diversity of the midshipmen and faculty, and the individual attention they received. Our partnership provides students a better understanding of how mathematics, science and technology are used in the real world, and the importance of teamwork."