Two of the most advanced students in the area are helping Windsor’s youngest learners embrace lessons in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Binghamton University graduate students Michele Messina and Michaela Pike are visiting all K-2 classrooms in the district to supplement Windsor’s efforts to introduce all students to the engineering design process.
“As an engineer, you always do things more than once. The first time you do an experiment, it rarely ever works. The second time, it often doesn’t either,” Messina told a 2nd grade class at Bell Elementary. “You have to keep improving every time you do. You guys did a great job of that today.”
Messina and Pike had the 2nd grade students use a range of ingredients, including vegetable oil, flour, baking soda, and Alka Seltzer tablets to make slow-releasing capsules, similar to certain tablets that deliver medicine.
“It was fun. On the first try, it didn’t work. On the second try, it did,” said 2nd grader Berkley Ingram.
“You always learn from experiments like this one. I learned that if you mix the right ingredients, you can make something that didn’t dissolve until one minute and ten seconds,” said 2nd grader Keagan Connors. “This is actually kind of good because when I grow up I want to be a scientist.”
Kindergarten and first grade students are doing a different experiment – making a stretcher that can carry a potato. The pair of graduate students will visit Palmer Elementary on March 25 & 26, and Weeks Elementary on April 30 & May 1.
“A big part of science is just trying until you get it right. We want them to show creativity instead of just following a rigid set of steps. That’s what science can be about,” said Pike, a Neuroscience major.
Messina and Pike are also examples to young female students of what they can accomplish in areas that have traditionally been male-dominated.
“I know when I was growing up, all of the engineers I knew were men,” said Messina, a Biomedical Engineering major.
“I grew up wanting to be a doctor. That’s what I’m studying to become. But growing up, everyone would ask me, ‘Don’t you want to be a nurse?’” said Pike.
Ultimately, the pair want to show there can be a role in science for any student interested in one.
“We’re trying to make kids excited about STEM. If I can make a workshop out of it, they may want to pursue science,” said Messina.