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OBU Education Majors Host STEM Day of Learning for Local Fourth Graders

December 10, 2021

Teacher education students at OBU hosted a special day of learning Nov. 18 for local elementary students. The event was themed “SPACE: A STEM Study” and was attended by 62 fourth-grade students from Shawnee’s Sequoyah Elementary School. STEM is a common acronym representing the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The event began with the OBU students posing as NASA engineers gathering at a space shuttle launch. The elementary students were encouraged to join the education majors as they counted down to blast off. Following the excitement of the launch, the students were asked if they would be interested in becoming junior space engineers or space scientists.

Each team of students was then asked several science questions, and when they couldn't answer, they were invited to go for training at the STEM day. The students then rotated through four different stations consisting of Station One: “The Landing,” Station Two: “The Take-Off,” Station Three: “G Force” and Station Four: “Our Galaxy.”

For Station One: “The Landing,” students watched a spaceship landing and talked about what it took for it to land. The students then tried their hand at slowing an object down and cushioning the fall through an egg-drop activity. They used the engineering process of designing a safe way to land an egg from a high position and tested and evaluated their idea. This was followed by a redesign and retest. This station was created and taught by Ashley Chambers, Anita Claxton, Zoë Jennings and Avery Delano.

“We chose our space theme by talking in class and pitching ideas of things the fourth-grade students were learning about in class,” Delano said. “When we landed on space, everyone started coming up with ideas and it was the obvious choice.”

Delano commented on what she hopes the fourth-grade students learned from the experience.

“I hope the fourth graders learned all that goes into space and what it takes to launch and land a rocket,” she said. “I also hope they learned that a bunch of us are rooting for them here at OBU and we are so excited to walk alongside them as they learn.”

At Station Two: “The Take-Off,” students watched a rocket launch and discussed some of the scientific principles needed to launch a rocket, such as an energy source. They then used the engineering design process to design a small straw rocket with a small energy source and then a larger stomp bottle rocket with a larger source of energy. Then, the students each launched their rockets. This station was created and taught by Abigail Boren, Jacqui Denny, Leavi Everett and Gracie Pipes.

Station Three: “G Force” discussed the concepts of gravity, force and motion. Magnetism was used as a way to demonstrate gravitational pull. Students first experimented with magnetism and then completed an engineering challenge using magnetism to move a steel ball along a course without touching it. This station was created and taught by Ivanna Covarrubias, Hannah Ellis, Devyn Jones and Allison Pankiewicz.

Finally, Station Four: “Our Galaxy,” provided background knowledge about the planets in our solar system and about our galaxy. The students were provided a STEAM activity (STEM plus art) where they could make and paint a model of the planets’ order and distances. This station was created and taught by Brooke Newby, Hannah Mehlhaff, Macie Kester and Grace Vernon.

Delano enjoyed the STEM day of learning and all it entailed.

“My favorite part about STEM day was just seeing how excited all the kids were as they went section to section. They were all very excited when they started connecting the dots and grew in their knowledge.”

She believes working to create this day of learning will benefit her as a future educator.

“I think this experience will make me a better teacher due to the opportunity to plan a themed unit and then teach it. I learned a lot from this experience and also how to work with others in my group who are all teaching the same thing.”

Dr. Jeanne Akin, Mary A. White Professor of Education, teaches the science methods course in which the students created the event.

“The STEM day provides an excellent opportunity for the OBU teacher education students to practice planning curriculum that promotes STEM at a young age and provides them a teaching experience,” Akin said. “The day was a hands-on learning opportunity for the children that promoted interest in science, math and STEM-related careers. It was a day of great fun while learning."

Learn more about the Henry F. McCabe Family School of Education and studying to be a teacher at OBU.