Instead of lining students up and getting them on a bus for a trip to a museum, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science’s Tech Truck brings hands-on learning directly to budding scientists in North and Central Texas..
On a recent visit to Grand Prairie Collegiate Institute, the museum set up different stations inside and outside the school featuring a variety of STEM activities.
“We’re trying to bring the joy back. Most of our kids, they’ve been at home,” Felicia Layne, the school’s chancellor, said. “We wanted to make it special for them. Some of these kids may not have ever been able to get to the Perot. But for the Perot to come to us, that’s huge.”
The museum hopes giving more students access to and information about the fun side of science will stick with them for a lifetime and inspire them for the future.
“No one flunks museums. So when you go into these wonderful activities… they’re very low risk for the kids to get involved. They feel like they can make mistakes, it’s not necessarily going to count against them,” Museum CEO Linda Silver said. “We know that people who choose these careers in science and technology tend to have been inspired by something that happened outside the classroom.”
Here’s a look at a few of the interactive activities the Grand Prairie Collegiate students got to experiment with.
The Animation Station
This is 16 yr-old Braedn Williams’ video created at Grand Prairie’s Collegiate Institute when the Perot Museum visited the school all day. The Perot set up the animation station. @keranews pic.twitter.com/H8H7ZWmPHk
— BILL ZEEBLE (@bzeeble) August 19, 2021
Braedn Williams, 16, created a short animation using a small camera, a 3D-printed plastic creature and a computer.
“We use the camera to take a photo and then we move them a little bit and take another photo and that’ll create a motion over time,” Braedn said, explaining how the station works. “We got to watch it and delete if we have any complications, anything like that, it’s really cool.”
In another corner of the big room the animation station is in, dozens of students split up into teams to construct their battlebots.
They used construction paper, rubber bands, glue, tape and other items to armor up a little motorized sphere..
Using a bluetooth connected tablet, teams remote-controlled their bot in matches against each other. Julian Jagush, the Perot Tech Truck educator, describes the moral behind the military mayhem.
“It’s a lesson in engineering but also discovering the concept of center of gravity,” Jagush said. “So where you need to distribute weight in order for your battlebot to not fall over and for your opponent’s battlebot to fall over.”
Outside at the pop up space center in the school parking lot, aspiring rocketeers rolled up construction paper tubes an inch or so in diameter and taping them shut. Then added fins, secured a nose cone and slid their rockets over a long hard plastic tube attached to an air-filled sack.
Then the students stomped on the sack, launching their rocket. Some of the rockets took off, others failed to launch, but the stdents had fun and learned lessons either way.
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