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STEM: Real World Application

Stillwater Middle School teachers are planting the STEM seeds of interest in their students.
STEM: Real World Application

STEM: Real World Application

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Show 1643: STEM: Real World Application
Air Date: October 23, 2016



Rob McClendon: So what do these new STEM-based classrooms look like? Our Austin Moore had Stillwater Middle School teacher Becky Hammack show us hers.

Becky Hammack: This is our automation and robotics class. So they’re learning the basics of mechanical mission. And so they’re learning what each of these mechanisms do so that next week when I give them a very big project, like create a machine that can rotate a solar collection dish and follow the angle of the sun, they can take all of this information that they learned and put that together in an open-ended design challenge.

Student: I think I probably could have made this, like, more stable.

Hammack: This that they are doing is very much a physics lesson. So they are doing math and they are doing science, and we do all of that background first so we develop the math skills, and we develop the scientific concepts and understanding of that. Then they take that and apply it to create a solution to a problem, and that’s the engineering aspect of it. So really, we’re taking all of those things, their science knowledge, their math knowledge, and they’re applying that in an engineering project in order to create some type of technology. So we’re hitting all of the four STEM areas. I honestly feel more like a facilitator than an instructor. You saw me earlier sitting down with a group. They have a problem that I haven’t seen before, and I don’t, I’m not just going to give them the answer, and I might not even know the answer. So we’ll sit down together, and we’ll try to figure it out. And they’re teaching me while I’m teaching them. We’re building critical thinking skills. I give them problems that don’t exist, and they’re real-life based, but they’re something that they’ve never come across. So they actually have to think, not just fill in a bubble and write a correct answer. They have to take the knowledge that I’ve given them and find a way to translate that into a meaningful product. So they are learning how to think outside of the box. They are learning how to analyze a situation and take all the resources they have available and find a way to solve a problem based on all that’s offered to them.

Student: I think it’s, I think it’s belt-drive.

Hammack: My next seventh-grade class that is coming, I actually have more female students than male students, first time ever. So the number of girls we’re seeing in this program is getting greater, because they are seeing, “Oh, this is what engineering is. It’s not people in hard hats with hammers and nails. It’s all of these other things.” And they’re really, it’s giving them a better understanding of what that career path is really like instead of the stereotypes that most people see.

Student: Can you draw an imaginary line and tell me when I’ve done it?

Hammack: My background is in science. I’m a scientist by training. And so this is the kind of learning that’s going to get them where they need to be if they go into STEM. I know that because that’s the field I came from.

Student: We might want to take this out for a little bit.