Last year at the Legacy Elementary STEM night, Frenship GT teacher Amy Mitchell had the chance to speak with Allison Eubanks, Legacy’s former media specialist and current Outreach Program Director and Assistant Director of TTU's STEM Center for Outreach, Research & Education (STEM CORE). From this conversation an idea was formed for a field trip to Texas Tech for a STEM Challenge Day.
Around 370 GT students from grades first through fifth took part in three STEM challenges designed by Eubanks for the Frenship curriculum. Eubanks designed the activities to be engaging for the students. The students were ‘hired’ by the fictitious company STEM Raiders Inc. (SRI) to help complete an important STEM mission.
The students rotated through three sessions, learning from engineering faculty and students, and collaborated with a team using the Engineering Design Process to plan, design, and test one structure per session.
Session 1: Create a 3D model of a famous structure that is structurally sound while experiencing various challenges like not being able to speak or using one arm at various times.
Session 2: Due to a "hurricane" heading our way, students had to build "Harry" the bird a high perch that is structurally sound and able to withstand wind. Students used pipe cleaners, tape, and cupcake liners for the perch.
Session 3: The SRI team needs help to design structurally sound houses to withstand all 5 categories of hurricanes. Students worked together to build houses with 2 windows and one door that could remain standing after the hurricane --- as tested by a leaf blower!
The Frenship GT teachers decided to collaborate for this trip because there are so many benefits to taking students out of the classroom so they can relate to the curriculum in an engaging environment. The students got exposure to high-level STEAM content, career/college opportunities, and hands-on/problem-solving challenges. They also met with and learned from experts within the community, as well as worked with other gifted learners from other campuses.
The GT students had numerous positive things to say about the field trip, stating the activities were fun and challenging.
“I liked that it was fun, and we got to use all the letters of STEAM! (science, technology, engineering, arts, math)” said one student. “I really liked that we had to work together and help each other in all 3 challenges.”
The teachers noticed the challenges and gave the students opportunities to increase team building and collaboration skills. As another student noted, “I really liked the field trip. My team had some ups and downs, but we managed to get back together! We got a compliment from a teacher because we won, and she saw us working together.”
For more information on the Gifted and Talented program at your campus, visit the Frenship ISD GT page by clicking here.