MS Students Participate in SRS Teach-in

On February 26 and 27, Mrs. Shaw’s eighth grade physical science class and Mr. Greiner’s seventh grade earth science class participated in the Savannah River Site (SRS) Teach-in Program with three SRS engineers, current parent Bill Jeffords, Nathen Winn, and Ben Sanderson. The Teach-in program is an annual outreach program by Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) to foster student interest in STEM fields and provide a broader understanding of the field of engineering, primarily to students in seventh grade. Since 2008, over 18,000 middle school students in the CSRA have benefited from this program.

As part of the teach-in, each of the engineers shared information about their own career experiences and the academic path they had to follow to get to where they are today. They also showed a short clip from “Apollo 13,” the scene in which a team of engineers had to improvise an adaptor using only random parts that were available on the Lunar Module. The scene not only showed what an engineer may need to do on the job, but also showed a great example of a collaborative team working together to solve a real-life problem.

Following the clip, the students were engaged in a hands-on activity that challenged them to design a self-propelled space rover using just ordinary materials that you’d find in an office supply closet: cardboard, masking tape, rubber bands of various sizes, paper clips, straws and pencils. Their task after building their space rover: How far can it go on its own?

The team whose rover moved the longest distance, the length of two floor tiles, was in Mrs. Shaw’s class.

I loved that the activity the engineers brought made our kids think critically and work together with their peers to solve a problem. Another part of the presentation that impacted my students was the information on what it takes to be an engineer. The speakers were clear about the requirements needed to get into a strong program and the skills necessary to be successful. I am hopeful that we can have them back next year,” said Mrs. Shaw.

Mr. Jeffords said that he really enjoyed our students and how refreshing to have them all so actively engaged in the project. It’s not always the case with the variety of schools and students he works with. “I enjoy working in the schools and letting the students generate solutions without bounds. They are so creative. When I get the chance to work with such delightful, energetic and creative young adults as these kids at Westminster, I am very encouraged about our country’s future,” he said.

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