Plastic tubes and pots and pans were not the only science opportunities going on around the area Saturday.
The Richmond County School System hosted its first Robotics Kick-off at A.R. Johnson Magnet School with students across all ages participating in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities. STEM is a growing initiative to prepare students for college and the workforce.
Stephanie Bryant, professional learning specialist for K-12 STEM at Richmond County schools, said the effort ties in to the growth of cyber.
“As we see in this area, we’re really getting ready for cyber and bringing that workforce, so tying that STEM in there and giving (students) that opportunity will be good for them,” Bryant said.
Bryant led elementary, middle and high school students in model bridge-building exercises, parachute drops and the opportunity for students to engineer the houses of “The Three Little Pigs,” to hopefully withstand the huffing and puffing of the Big Bad Wolf, or in the case of the STEM project, a fan.
“We’re trying to get them to see the interdisciplinary part of the lesson, integrating different hands-on activities,” Bryant said.
Students had a limited amount of time and resources to solve a problem. Middle school students worked on correcting a crane high school students engineered incorrectly and ran out of time before they could fix the problem, similar to a career in engineering where employees plan, design and go back to correct issues.
“You can learn about robotics and engineering, and that’s basically what jobs are all about,” eighth-grader Nevin Dent said.
Across the Savannah River, USC Aiken hosted its 32nd annual Science Education Enrichment Day. The event is presented each year by the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center and works closely with Aiken County Public Schools to get students engaged in a wide range of science activities, including those that are STEM-related.
“With the goal of increasing awareness of the role of science, technology engineering and mathematics in society, and conveying the joy of STEM, we plan this event each year to give young learners ‘up close and personal’ interaction with real-world scientists, engineers and other technical professionals,” John Hutchens, director of special programs at the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center, said in a statement. “Organizers recognize that as a society we must continue to excite and engage families about STEM fields.”
Students had the opportunity to see and hold animals such as owls, snakes and alligators, as well as purchase tickets to view the planetarium show. While the event was geared toward school-aged children, some younger participants and their parents crashed the party at the university.
Greg Taylor from Graniteville brought his 3- and 5-year-old sons.
“It’s a great opportunity to introduce them to it early and get them interested even though it will be a few more years before they see it in their schools,” he said.