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STEM fair at White Oak proves stretching experience [Loch Raven]

If you happened to visit White Oak Elementary School on the evening of April 28, you might have found students along with their parents and siblings trying to assemble a pyramid using plastic drinking cups. Sounds simple but there was a catch — they could not touch the cups with their hands but the teams had to use string and rubber bands to move the cups. Each team member controlled one string and all the strings were tied to one central rubber band which was used to lift and place the cup. When all members of the team pulled out the rubber band opened and could be lowered carefully down around the cup. By adjusting the tension on the rubber band, the cup could be moved to be placed on the pyramid.

The activity taught particpants the importance of teamwork, coordination, planning and other necessary work skills and was the concluding event at the school's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) night.

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It was a fun way to end the night but earlier activities were equally exciting and informative. Race car drivers Kyle Denmyer and Wayne Nicolette, and engineer and race car enthusiast Paul Lonsdale brought race cars to the school and explained how their suits and cars were designed to be aerodynamic. They explained the cars safety features and their use of math when balancing and calibrating the cars.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. representatives Frank Peusch and Joe Martin explained occupations and safety in the field of electricity and allowed the participants to model BGE gear.

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Dwayne Murphey, a representative of the 4-H program at the University of Maryland Extension taught students about robotics and how they can play an important role in everyday life. Students had the chance to try their robotic skills maneuvering Lego robots.

The evening not only provided an opportunity for students to learn about various occupations using STEM- related skills but also to show off their own STEM fair projects. Each student had a trifold display telling about their science fair hypothesis, the experiment they did and the conclusions they made. Fifth-graders explained their projects in a pre-recorded video. Cheryl Bishop, parent service coordinator, summarized "STEM night was a great opportunity fo White Oak families to learn about jobs in STEM from the experts!"

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