Exploring the process of engineering design and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fifth-grade students at James H. Vernon School developed working wind turbines out of repurposed materials and showcased them in their school.
The exhibit was the culmination of two months of hard work that left students with a deeper understanding of the design process and the satisfaction of achieving a working product after numerous rounds of trial and error. For weeks, students brainstormed, problem-solved, tested and retested their designs until they finally achieved a turbine that worked to their satisfaction. Typically students collaborate in groups but due to social distancing restrictions, students, both in-person and remote, had the added challenge of working individually.
The project was led by fifth-grade science teachers Ms. Diana Hauser, Mr. Frank Sommo, Ms. Jamie Stainkamp and fifth-grade inclusion teachers Ms. Diana Boucher and Ms. Heather Russell, and was inspired by the book, Leif Catches the Wind, a story about a boy who lives in Denmark and his cousin Dana who work together to solve a mechanical engineering problem.
Fifth-grade teachers said STEM projects such as this inspire students to look at the world in new and different ways, and help them discover that there is more than one way to solve a problem.