By Ann Powers, Palo Pinto Press | May 10, 2023 read it >
GORDON—The Texas Mobile STEM Lab rolled into Gordon, May 3–4, giving students a hands-on, creative experience exploring science, technology, engineering and math.
Operated by the nonprofit, Learning Undefeated, the lab is set up with equipment, materials and instructors engaging kindergarten through eighth-grade students in the engineering design process.
For example, sixth-graders planned, budgeted, purchased materials (using play money), brainstormed, constructed and tested their own space capsule built around a Lego astronaut.
Following a laboratory demonstration of a chemical reaction, eighth-graders used acetic acid and sodium bicarbonate to design an efficient truck for a transportation company while learning about Newton’s Laws of Motion.
Inspired by “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” pre-kindergarten students rebuilt a chair for the Bear family after Goldilocks broke in and busted it. Teams earned bonus points if a teammate could sit in the chair.
The lab’s curriculum also includes an introduction to various STEM careers like aerospace and chemical engineering as it relates to the activities students are doing.
“It’s teaching students those 21st century skills,” said Learning Undefeated Education Program Manager Desurae Matthews. “STEM is basically taking over the world and we want to spark that interest in students of all ages, [but] it’s important for students no matter what career they decide to go into.”
The lab is housed in a traveling, 50-foot trailer and is self-sufficient with its own power, HVAC, and supplies. It’s also wheelchair accessible. Last school year, it journeyed more than 17,000 miles across Texas serving about 7,000 kids.
“I think it’s an amazing experience,” said 13-year-old Alexa Hernandez. “I love science and I love space.”
Her classmate agreed.
“It’s fun,” added Tanner Whitlock, 12, who would like to pursue a career in math. “You get to make stuff and you get to learn how forces act on objects.”
The program is funded by the Texas Education Agency and provided to schools for free. All Texas public schools offering classes for grades K-8 are eligible to request a visit.
At least one school district from every educational region receives a visit each school year. Priority for visits are given to rural schools and those with high economic need.
Applications for the 2023-24 academic year are being accepted until May 26. For more information visit learningundefeated.org/project/txmobilestem.