Elementary students learn science from cadets
Feb 23, 2013 (The Gazette (Colorado Springs - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Evans International Elementary School was noisier than usual on Friday. One class test flew with paper airplanes in the hallway. Another class learned how to operate a robot. A class loudly counted down until a hybrid rocket was fired up.
The day was all about STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math -- with Air Force Academy cadets taking on teaching roles.
After watching a rocket burn in class, 9-year-old Joshua Glaze said he wanted to learn a lot more about rockets.
"I want to see what the rocket is made of," he said.
The rocket demonstration and paper airplane lessons in aeronautical engineering were big hits.
"I liked learning how they fly," said 9-year-old Sarah Meyer. The cadets made learning cool, she said.
"Things like this make education make sense to kids," said fourth-grade Evans teacher Pam Holloman.
The International Baccalaureate school in Falcon School District 49 was closed Thursday because of snowy weather, and school Friday started two hours late because of poor road conditions.
Jonathan Staggs, 10, said he didn't want to come to school today -- until he found out about the special visitors and their lesson plans.
He said he likes science, especially circuitry.
"It's fun," he said.
About 65 Air Force Academy cadets spent the day at Evans. Students in third through fifth grades rotated through six stations that included lessons on rocketry, robotics and flight. Younger students still experienced the lessons cadets brought, but in a slightly different format.
The cadets are members of the academy's STEM Club. While not all are science, technology, engineering or math majors, they volunteer to help show students the possibilities.
"This is what we do," said sophomore cadet Winston Sanks, 22. "It's just fun to hang out with the kids."
Students often visit the academy for sessions, but club members also share their skills with students in the community through school visits and special festivals.
"Sciences do so much these days," said cadet Jeff Howdeshell, 20.
Tre Ford, 10, said he already knew he wanted to be a mechanical or electrical engineer. Learning about all the science involved was "pretty cool," he said.
The challenge in working with younger students is explaining things so they understand, Howdeshell said, but it's much better than trying to reach older students.
"Elementary students are still young enough that they enjoy learning," he said.
They ask great questions, said junior cadet Connor Wiese, 20.
"They want to hear everything, they want to learn everything," he said.
Teachers praised the hands-on lessons. Not only do the experiences connect kids with math and science, but the cadets are also role models, Holloman said.
That part is a little scary, Howdeshell said.
"At the same time, it's the coolest thing in the world to have that kind of impact."
Contact Kristina Iodice: 636-0162 Twitter @GazetteKristina Facebook Kristina Iodice
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