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Science comes alive at North Tama

Elementary school has STEM day

February 29, 2012
By ANDREW POTTER , Times-Republican

TRAER - Around almost every corner at North Tama Elementary School, science learning was brought to life Tuesday.

The school hosted a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Experience day as it brought in experts from several different fields to present and get students involved in projects.

As part of the STEM day, third graders checked out animals from the Grout Museum in Waterloo including a python, while the upper classes took to building model robots and wind turbines and designing Mars rovers.

Article Photos

Jason Dornbush, right, of the Grout Museum in Waterloo, lets North Tama Elementary third grade students pet a python during a special science learning day at the school. Students pictured, from left, are Emma Winkelpleck, Caleb TeBeest, Kylie Reichman and Alexis Hansen and the teacher in the background is Megan Smith.

"They love this hands-on learning," said fifth grade teacher Becky Adams whose class was programming robots to move in a maze.

Other guest presenters included those from the University of Northern Iowa's Center for Energy and Environmental Education, astronomy and physics graduate students from the University of Iowa and New Mexico State University and Iowa State University's Insect Zoo and Toying with Technology programs.

"It exposes kids to careers that probably they don't think about," said North Tama Elementary Principal Josh Youel.

It seemed the students were up for the task.

"The kids came to school and you could just feel the energy," Youel said.

The idea for a STEM day came from sixth grade teacher Lisa Chizek. She thought bringing in science experts from the business field would energize the students at the school and show how science is utilized in the real world.

"I thought we needed to bring them into the classroom to pump the kids up," Chizek said.

One influential person in higher education took notice and attended activities on the day - University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen.

Allen is part of the statewide STEM leadership and wanted to see how it was being enacted with younger students.

"I wanted to see first hand how things are being done," Allen said. "Clearly, these students are excited about science. This is so important for the future that these kids get interested in science."

Youel said the plan is to further expand STEM day with hopes to get the younger elementary students involved next year.

The public is welcome to learn about the student projects at the STEM Experience fair at 12:30 p.m. March 6 at the school in Traer.



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