In full ’90s nostalgic fashion, the ‘Mobile eXploration Lab’ (MXLab) is bringing the Magic School Bus to life for some Central Texas students. The MXLab is a mobile classroom designed to introduce students to careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Inside are activities that promote critical thinking, scientific processes and hands-on learning for all grade levels.
Over 400 kindergarten through fifth grade students at High Point Elementary were able to board the Texas Mobile STEM Lab where they are able to work cooperatively with other students to design a STEM project activity developed by Learning Undefeated, with support from the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Students were read the story of the Three Little Pigs told from the perspective of the “Big Bad Wolf.” Instructors Katie Askelson and Desurae Matthews challenged the students to design and construct a home that could withstand the powerful sneeze of the wolf.
Mobile STEM lab gives Navasota elementary students opportunity to apply science and math to real-life challenges
First graders Ramon Martinez and Susie Pate both said their favorite part was creating homes, both of which fell the first time. Pate, who said she is interested in all types of science, said she learned that working together as a team is better.
There is a push in Texas and throughout the United States, Aguilar said, to use hands-on activities to encourage science and STEM education and to do so at an earlier age. “I feel like starting them off young, especially at first grade, kindergarten level is essential, so they could have those skills as they go throughout their schooling, and hopefully, will lead into going to college,” he said. “I feel like it’s a good opportunity that could project or have a major difference in their life, and especially in the occasion they do go on to pursue a higher education as well.”
Texas Mobile STEM Lab visits Whiteright Elementary School thanks to a partnership with Texas Education Agency. The school applied and was chosen as one of only 30 Texas schools to receive a visit from the country’s largest mobile STEM lab.
Inside this mobile lab, kids were given the chance to build robots, build little houses as part of a souped-up Three Little Pigs story and even building space capsules. Askelson said activities like these can be beneficial for students of all ages.“We want them to know that anyone can be an engineer, and if they want to be an engineer, they can do it — really, they can be anything they want in life; they just have to work really hard at it,” Askelson said.