Middle school students grow new interest in STEM with Math and Science Center programs designed to make their experience practical, fun, and exciting.
In Battle Creek, the Area Math and Science Center is trying new methods to engage students and ignite an interest in math skills
“You know, when you talk to people about the Math and Science Center, people really don’t understand what we are, and what purpose we serve and what opportunities are available to us,” the center’s STEM director, Luke Perry, said Wednesday. “By bringing sixth-graders in here, we create a spark.”
Education in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — is a focus of the center.
Those sixth-graders, from Northwestern Middle School, were at the center’s Putting the M in STEM event Wednesday and today to learn interesting ways to obtain and analyze data sets.
About 100 kids over the two days will cycle through three labs, where they will collect numbers and put them into context. In the first room, kids measure their pulses at rest, then scramble up three flights of stairs, come back down and take another pulse measurement.
“The second data table is a reaction time,” Perry said. “We’re using a program on the web. It’s a sheep program; you have to shoot the sheep with a dart. They’re actually going to do time trials with that one, so they’re actually going to take six trials and get their average response reaction time, and then they record that whole data set.”
Lastly, students have to measure the span of one of their hands, predict how many Dum Dum suckers they can hold, and then grab a bunch of them, which will show their hypothesis to be right or wrong.
Perry said students will take all the data they collect and, working with teachers, create histograms, or visual representations of those numbers.