Tuscarora IU 11: STEM Kits and Camps Spark Imaginative Designs

In this world of high-tech devices, it’s easy to forget that basic principles of electronics still power all our machines. Tuscarora Intermediate 11’s STEM initiatives take students back to the basics but also let their imaginations soar, with camps and newly created kits that allow them to build real-life versions of the gadgets their active minds dream up.

TIU11’s summer STEM camps have grown to include at-risk students and those with special needs transitioning into independence. Students learn “design thinking,” when they’re challenged to create autonomous items using electric circuitry and computer controls. In one camp, they built bottle rockets while learning about the fueling, pressure, and construction principles of rocketry.

“There are a lot of things we teach through building a bottle rocket,” says Jigar Patel, TIU 11 instructional media and communications specialist. “Our goal is to make them so they’re not afraid to try things and learn from it. They have a problem in mind. They try a solution. If it doesn’t work, they improve on that.”

Now, to encourage additional experiential learning, TIU11 is developing STEM kits for sale to teachers and students statewide. The kits include the same items that students use in STEM camps – electronics “breadboard” (a basic circuitry board), wires, 3 LED lights, two buttons, a buzzer, and a tiny, low-cost computer called a Raspberry Pi. Students can build basic circuits to light up the lights, and they can continue experimenting with the buttons, buzzers, and items of their own to turn imagination into reality.

TIU 11 hopes to hold workshops where students can share their creations.

“It’s all about building that community of makers in our area,” says Patel. “IU 11 is in a very rural area, so there isn’t much of a community offered for these STEM ideas. We want to build on that maker’s movement idea.”

To learn more about the STEM kits, http://stem.tiu11.org.   

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