Most of the schools affiliated with the Scientists for Tomorrow Initiative this Fall (2015) are on their third or fourth session. Students have not only learned about the science behind alternative energy but they have also proven to be able to understand the module’s underlying concepts and its relevance. The student’s comprehension has been facilitated with the help of visual aids and hands-on methods and ensures that they are on their way to a complete understanding of the module and its terms.
In their first and second lesson, the groups from Manuel Perez Jr. Elementary School, alongside other institutions like Nathan S. Davis Elementary and Erie House have discussed the subject of energy. The students, with the help and guidance of the instructors, have been able to comprehend the concepts of energy, as well as the difference between renewable and non-renewable resources. They also got to experiment with electricity, by working in groups and creating series, parallel, open and closed circuits.
The groups of Englewood (Bond, Forest Park, Holmes and Henderson) have had the opportunity to meet a couple more times since they started earlier in the term. They have also discussed the subject of energy and grasped the concepts by explaining to the students what their life would be like without electricity. The students were able to complete the circuit experiment and on their third meeting, they moved on to the following topic, which involved building a solar powered cart that had every student engaged and excited.
The group in DeWitt Clinton Elementary School even came up with different car design after a lesson in engineering and constraints. During the 2nd and 3rd lesson, students were introduced to the Pythagorean Theorem and the hypotenuse. For some participants, these were completely new concepts. Some other terms introduced in the lessons were mechanical energy, velocity, gear, axle and motor. With these in mind, students were able to start building the frame of their cars.
Each participant had the opportunity to measure and cut triangles and wood that would later be added to their carts. The group of Englewood-Henderson had already added axles, wheels and gears to their carts.
Lesson four will be about melting metals by soldering. We expect participants to stay engaged and continue to show interest in group activities and STEM careers overall, so by the end of the period, they have a full understanding and recognition of why alternative energy is important.
By: Jessica Casillas
Columbia College Chicago
Acting Major/SfT Student Staff