Tuesday, July 15, 2014

For Immediate Release

MITS Offers Workshops at Tri-Town STEM Expo

The Tri-Town STEM Expo, held on June 5 at Wheaton College in Norton, MA was bustling with activity as eager middle school students from the region explored enriching STEM workshops and countless hands-on projects.  MITS Special Programs Director, Jane Heinze-Fry, offered workshops collaboratively with Lloyd Center for the Environment Director, Rachel Stronach and Education/Outreach Director, Elizabeth Moniz.  Targeting energy resources, the workshops connected students to STEM career opportunities in these fields.

Tri-Town STEM Expo Rachel

At the morning workshop, Rachel introduced the topic of oil spills by sharing an account of an oil spill event in which she had worked.  Armed with the knowledge of the impact oil spills can have on ecosystems, teams of students tackled the “Clean Up the Oil Spill” activity, testing how effective different supplies (sponges, nylon, mop strands) provided by the Lloyd Center for the Environment were in removing oil from model oil spills.   The afternoon workshop, “Designing Wind Turbine Blades,” gave teams of students the chance to build their own mini turbines using Kid Wind kits that MITS provided.  As one team redesigned their blades resulting in faster rotation, one student beamed, “I feel successful!”

Meanwhile, in the exhibition hall, students queued up for a chance to operate the SeaPerch underwater model ROVTri-Town STEM Expo Jane (remotely operated vehicle) which MITS presented in a large tub of water.  The hand-held remote controls enabled students to turn the SeaPerch in any direction or make it dive deeper into the water.  Many were very excited at the prospect of building their own ROVs in the classroom.  Interested educators may attend one of two SeaPerch workshops MITS is offering this fall, funded in part by the Dorr Foundation.  These workshops (to be held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the South Shore Natural Science Center) train teachers in how to construct an underwater SeaPerch ROV while providing them with guidance in how to ultimately lead a classroom of students in building their own ROVs from kits.

While waiting their turn for the SeaPerch, the students enjoyed learning about water pressure using Cartesian divers provided by the Lloyd Center for the Environment.  Competing against each other for small prizes, the students tried to maneuver their model divers (little plastic tubes containing air bubbles) to the bottom of their water filled bottles to hook onto a metal clip.  Other popular attractions at the event included the “Inventor Mentor” who gave students a ride on a “hover craft” and allowed them to shoot smoky “O rings” through the air using a hand-held sling shot of sorts.  Overall, the event was a tremendous success and a wonderful learning experience for the many students who attended.  MITS was glad to do our part in showing kids that learning STEM can be a whole lot of fun!