March 5, 2014

Innovation STEMs from problem solving skills

In recent years educators have stressed the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics due to the U.S. falling behind other countries in math, science and technology.
At Beulah Middle School, Science Teacher Patty Mossett has been doing her part to keep students involved in a couple different ways. One is a twice-yearly event where students form into groups and take on a project head-on, then give their results to a panel of judges. The other is with the Science Olympiad.
“Along with science and technology is problem solving,” Mossett said. “We’re trying to implement those things into our classrooms as well as possible. The Science Olympiad, while it wasn’t started as a STEM initiative, it’s started to fall into that. It’s a competition where they’re engineering, building and designing things.”
Through the competition the students are given challenges with certain requirements. Build a helicopter-type device that carries an egg and prevents it from breaking, for instance. The real obstacle is the lack of formal plans that go along with the design. That, Mossett says, is where the groups get innovative.
“There’s no pattern or design that they have to follow, they have to figure it out themselves,” she said. “They troubleshoot as they go. This gives them the opportunity to be competitive against other schools. That can really encourage the students.”
Some of the students are back after experiencing the Olympiad last year. Some told their friends and now, this year, there are two teams consisting of 27 students.
For the STEM days at school, or the Olympiad, students might do anything from determining what type of substance a certain powder is, or designing a rubber band-driven car, or looking to the stars.


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