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Last fall, 4th and 5th graders at Beverly J. Martin Elementary School stretched their minds with engineering and design, finishing each academic week with a high-engagement science experience offered by Xraise Cornell, the K-12 outreach team for CLASSE. Students in BJM's not-for-profit extended day program, Academic Plus, were given some basic tools, access to common materials, and assignments like, "Make something roll from here to there." They dove head-first into the challenge, limited only by the extent of their creativity and what's physically possible.

Within no time, propelled by batteries and motors, weird contraptions were zipping around on the floor. A closer look revealed that yo-yos were used as wheels, straws and skewers as axles, and no two of them were alike. There were double-decker buses, three wheeled trikes, dune buggies, and everything in-between.

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Free exploration like this gets minds actively engaged. Circuits need to be figured out, ideas need to be tried, and problems need to be worked through. In this type of learning environment, kids get used to doing something over and over again until it works—a valuable skill in life.

Soon Xraise will be back and the engineering will resume. Motors will be spinning and science will be winning!

 

 

Submitted by: Erik Herman, CHESS, Cornell University
03/04/2015