Facilitating Blended STEM Learning in Service of our US Military Families (Part 2 of 2)

Our Military Family STEM programming continued throughout the Fall. We offered two additional engineering challenges to families on Fort Stewart. Each Military Family STEM session was held at the USO on Fort Stewart, GA.

Solar Cooker Engineering Challenge

In October, families engaged in the Solar Cooker engineering challenge. As solar engineers, they increased their knowledge about solar energy. Then planned and constructed their solar cookers using pizza boxes, black construction paper, aluminum foil, cellophane, a thermometer, tongue depressors, and a laser pointer to determine the optimal angle of the pizza box top. Finally, they tested their solar cookers by collecting temperature data and cooking S’mores using the energy from the sun.

Design Your Path Engineering Challenge

In November, families engaged in the Design Your Path engineering challenge. As civil engineers, families learned about the role of potential and kinetic energy in the motion of an object. Then sketched the design of a path that enabled the safe downward travel of a vehicle. After constructing a prototype of their path using a trifold board, card stock, tape, and a marble (which represented the vehicle), families tested their designs to determine the slowest and therefore safest pathway.

All families were provided a take-home activity kit (includes inexpensive supplies and an activity guide with suggested questions to discuss with their children) to complete the engineering challenge again at home (hopefully with design insights that lead to a revised prototype).

For families with a deployed parent, we provided an additional activity kit for them to send to their deployed parent. It is our hope that the deployed parent

  • completes the engineering challenge with their family using the WGG engineering challenge software, which allows them to see each other responses, pictures, and video, or video apps, such as Google Hangout, FaceTime, or Skype
  • completes the engineering challenge on his/her own or with fellow soldiers and compare experiences with their family via phone, video, or text
  • simply listens and discusses their children’s experiences with the engineering challenge.

We look forward to sharing similar blended STEM learning experiences with more military families. Stay tuned!

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