BMS Students Working On Various STEM Projects

Students at Bourbon Middle School are getting an early start on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education through various projects.

The students showed off some of their work to Bourbon School Board members on November 21. 

The class is instructed by by Miriah Hittler and they have tackled engineering and robotics projects.

STEM integrates the four disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math into a cohesive curriculum and not all related jobs require higher education. The United States Department of Education announced November 8 that it has invested $540 million to support STEM education in Fiscal Year 2019.

Hittler’s eighth grade students showed off a bridge made out of popsicle sticks, a homeless shelter made out of newspaper, a hurricane house, a robotics project and a balloon tower.

The students worked in on the projects in groups.

Students were allowed to use newspaper and masking tape in building the homeless shelter. They pooled their supplies and made one big shelter, which worked well.

Hittler said the project frustrated students.

“They couldn’t get everybody to fit underneath and keep it up without touching because they couldn’t hold it up themselves,” she said.

To build a hurricane house, the students were given a ball of clay and popsicle sticks. They had to keep a cotton ball dry from six inches of water.

A blow dryer was used to simulate the wind.

“A lot of groups had trouble because they built it up, but didn’t take into effect that wind would come in,” HIttler said. “Some would be top heavy and fell over.”

During a robotics project, students had to make a maze and measure out how far they wanted a little contraption to travel.

“We’re just playing around and trying to figure out how it all works,” Hittler said, noting that teachers would be freaked out when they would look outside their classroom and see a ball rolling around making farm animal noises.

Students are also in the process of programming a car and having it respond to a remote.

The students tackled a balloon tower with a limited amount of balloons and tape. They could trade some of the balloons for tape, but ultimately just one balloon could be taped to the floor. The rest of the tower had to be freestanding.

“They stood up for several days,” Hittler said. The balloons met their demise when students let math teacher Donna Sanborn’s therapy dog Sandy pop them.

Students are starting to work on the 3D printer. They had to create a puzzle and make pieces on their own, then make it fit together. 

“We started with legos and they drew them using a program that engineers use in the real world,” Hittler said.

Students built a 3D model of the puzzle pieces, hooked it up to the 3D printer and they can take a puzzle home.

Board members were impressed with the students’ work and Hittler said they are enjoying the program.

“The kids have been excited about all the new things,” she said.

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