News: STEM projects give students hands-on learning experience
Story by Lance Cpl. Benjamin Pryer
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan - Matthew C. Perry Elementary School students hosted a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Repurpose Carnival inside the M. C. Perry Elementary School gymnasium here, May 31, 2013.
The event included static displays in the center of the room, all of which showcased different projects made from recyclables by students, and several hands-on stations surrounding the gym’s perimeter.
“We’ve been balancing a book on paper and putting black sand on your hand and moving it using magnets,” said Keandra Conner, 9, M. C. Perry 3rd grade student. “I’m going to enjoy working with my friends and showing the audience what we’ve been doing. I want to teach people how a text book can balance on a piece of paper.”
Working on the projects gave students a useful opportunity to develop their skills kinetically.
“This integrates science, technology, engineering and math together, and we’re trying to get these kids to realize how they go together and how powerful they can be from a young age, so, as they start getting into middle school and high school, they start thinking about the math and the science, and becoming more technologically proficient,” said Michael Erhart, M. C. Perry 3rd grade teacher. “A lot of kids like to play video games, but this is hands-on science and that’s what we’re trying to get them to see.”
While Erhart supervised the event, the students took full control of steering the show.
“You always worry about, 'are they going to be able to run it? Have you prepared them well enough?’ But we’ve gone over all of these things in the classroom and we ran through their stations this morning … so when they came here, I felt good about it,” said Erhart.
Students wore faces of confidence as they demonstrated their new-found knowledge to teachers and other students.
“This is hands-on stuff, it’s real,” said Erhart. “It’s not like a video game you just play. With this, you build stuff, you see it, you create things, you understand things. They could watch this stuff on a video, but it’s not as powerful as doing it.”