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Science, Technology, Engineering and Math "Oh, My..."

September 25, 2013 - Jane Whitmore
We were part of the Guinness World Record Attempt for the Largest Practical Science Lesson at the Clay County Fair a week or so ago. It was great to be a part of the enthusiastic crowd of over 775 people. Each of us received a wristband stamped with “World Record Attempt.”?My number was 00377. The scientists in white lab coats and goggles were joined by junior scientists wearing long white lab coats and goggles. They performed some pretty amazing experiments with the theme “The Power of Air.” Did we learn something??Absolutely. We received our lab packs filled with a ping pong ball, a plastic funnel, a straw, a small test tube of water, a petre dish, a wooden stir stick and two packets of Pop Rocks. We used each of these in our experiments and documented the results. I was able to levitate my ping pong ball by blowing through the straw and the Pop Rocks made mini explosions in my mouth. What fun! When we came into the Grandstand, we were given a container of bubble mix, so there were bubbles floating through the air. Young and old enjoyed learning about “The Power of Air,” thanks to Iowa Lakes Community College, the Governor’s STEM?NW?Regional Hub, and Clay County Fair. It was a great science lesson. The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council is a partnership of business, policy and education leaders from across the state. Their task is to bolster STEM?(Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and innovation and to better position Iowa’s young people and the state’s economy for the future. STEM?disciplines are vital for thriving in the 21st century whether managing STEM-based decisions of daily life or pursuing STEM careers. When we attended the CAT Review Committee meeting a couple of weeks ago, there were two presentations related to STEM?projects. Children’s Museum of Siouxland requested funding to create a museum that would focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The other presentation was presented by Putnam Museum of History and Natural Science in the Quad Cities, also with STEM?initiative project. While in San Antonio this past winter, we went to The Witte Museum. The museum houses South Texas history and culture and offers special exhibits throughout the year. We went to see the Mummies of the World exhibit. Before we went into the mummy exhibit, we explored other buildings at The Witte. Leaving the main building, I heard drumming that sounded much like the style of my grandson. I found him on a rooftop area at the Science Treehouse playing the drums with some other children. There are many investigation stations at the Treehouse where kids can experience: Air Power, Energy Underground, Simple Machines, Sound Waves, Eco-Science and Small World Science. The outdoor water exhibits which feed directly from the San Antonio River, include an Archimedes screw, diversion gates and water wheels. There is also a bicycle “zip line.” After leaving the rooftop to explore more of the Science Treehouse, I looked up at a television screen to see my grandson giving the weather report. There are so many ways to make learning a fun experience. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math -- Oh, my! (It’s kind of like lions and tigers and bears.) STEM goes together as the basis for innovative problem-solving and discovery. Our emphasis on STEM paves the way to exploratory learning. The main goal of the Guinness World Record Attempt for the Largest Practical Science Lesson was for everyone to learn something. No doubt everyone learned something different. We all had a great time and walked away a little smarter than when we arrived.


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