Georgetown East Elementary students learned about The Force on Thursday afternoon, except it was not taught by the Jedi Order. Instead, the Maryland Science Center held an assembly at the Annapolis school as part of its traveling science program.
The program titled, “Use the Force,” showed students science-related themes like motion, energy and friction with a Star Wars theme to gain the attention of the first through fifth graders.
“In working through the theme, we were most focused on forces and motion,” Science Center Director of Education Pete Yancone said. “That was another aspect of a Star Wars connection — force is described in the series and force in the physical sense.”
During the assembly, students watched as two presenters slipped on gloves or goggles before blasting landspeeder toys through a small track or shooting small rockets into the air as a way to captivate and educate the elementary school students on topics centered around force and motion. At times, students got the chance to go up on stage to participate.
To display how friction works, two students were tasked with a friendly game of tug of war. Cheers from the cafeteria erupted as the two children attempted to win with each tug. In the next moment, one student was asked to take off his shoes and try again. This time, his socked feet went sliding and with seconds he ended up on the ground.
The two traveling program presenters then went over the concept of friction and why the young boy lost the second game.
Each time the students watched experiments like a mini Porg figurine, a round-looking Puffin animal from the series, fly through the air after going through the ‘porg launcher’ or covered their ears in anticipation of a pencil speeding toward a block of wood, loud cheers or gasps erupted in response.
Third-grade teacher, Anna Baicar, said she thought the students loved the assembly, as they engaged with each experiment on stage and heard her students talk about the same lessons she had in class.
“In third grade, we teach forces and motion, I heard a couple of my kids say, ‘oh we learned about this,’” Baicar said with a laugh. “So that was cool that they knew what I was talking about and made the connection.”
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“What we are looking for are students who have not given much thought to STEM, or those who have thought about it but rejected it,” he said.
So the program helps to bring students back through exposure, he said.
Senior program presenter, Brian Freund, also talked about exposure to ideas that students are familiar with and then can build upon more ideas, he said. And at the end of it all, students get to have fun.