By Cody Thompson
GRAPELAND – Local students were shown that science can be fun at a science, technology, engineering and mathematics event held at the Grapeland Public Library on Tuesday, May 30.
“It was really exciting seeing the kids work with the equipment and see them develop an interest in science,” GPL executive director Ashley Corns told the Messenger on Tuesday.
Representatives from the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering brought a trailer, named the Trailblazer II, filled with exhibits and equipment from five different areas of STEM. The exhibit areas included: energy, space, biological technology/medicine, weather and aerodynamics.
“We here at TAME are focused on giving the kids hands-on experience with all of the equipment that we bring, because we feel that makes for a much more fun and engaging experience,” TAME program coordinator V.J. Willis told the Messenger. “Kids won’t typically go out and try to learn science on their own, but a little hands-on experience is sometimes what they need to light a spark in their heads that will lead to them researching and studying on their own.”
In the energy exhibit, students learned about energy conservation, the transformation and transmission of energy, power generation and alternative energy sources, and were given demonstrations on how electricity is generated and flows through a current during demonstrations of a bicycle generator and wind turbines.
In the space exhibit, students were taught about space flight, gravity, spacecraft propulsion, working in space, the impact of solar activity on the earth and various NASA products that are used in everyday life. Students were given the opportunity to see how heat moves throughout the human body by standing in front of a thermal imaging device and were shown the difference in the gravitational pulls of Earth, the moon, Jupiter and the sun through a device that showed the different weight of an item on each celestial body.
In the bio tech/medicine exhibit, students learned about pathogens, bones and bone structure, body temperatures, X-rays and robotics prostheses. The students even performed a mock surgery using a remote controlled robotic arm.
In the weather exhibit, students learned all about weather forecasting, predictive technology and the science behind tornadoes. The weather exhibit holds one of the favorite pieces of equipment for most of the students that TAME visits, according to Willis. Said device is a tornado room: a room that simulates the strong winds of a tornado that students can enter.
“The tornado room is almost always every kid’s favorite exhibit,” Willis said. “We sometimes have so many that try to use it at the same time that it’s hard to make sure that every one has gotten a turn with it.”
In the aerodynamics exhibit, students were taught and given demonstrations about civil engineering and aerodynamic shapes and principles. The main attraction in this exhibit is a wind tunnel. Students place pieces of foam of varying sizes and weights into the bottom of the tunnel and watch as the piece quickly or slowly rises to the top of the tunnel.
“We’ve (TAME) have been doing these types of events since 1996 and it never gets old seeing kids get excited about STEM,” Willis said. “I still love seeing the change in the demeanor of the kids from when they enter the trailer to when they leave. More often than not, they leave a lot more excited than we they start.”
To learn more about the exhibit areas or about TAME or any of the organization’s other activities, visit www.tame.org.
Cody Thompson may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.