MCAS Cherry Point, N.C. (WNCT)
This fall, elementary school students in Craven County will have a new, hands-on way to learn science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts, thanks to engineers at MCAS Cherry Point.
Earlier in 2019, engineers at the Fleet Readiness Center East’s Mobile Fabrication Lab, based at MCAS Cherry Point, designed and built two custom STEM Carts, each filled with instructions and supplies for projects to help students learn important STEM concepts.
The STEM Cart design allows for projects to either be self-led or completed as a group, and also allows teachers to tailor projects in the cart to their specific curriculum needs.
The STEM Carts were used in the Spring 2019 semester by teachers and students at W.J. Gurganus Elementary School in Havelock, and Vanceboro Farm Life Elementary School.
The STEM Carts were so successful in helping students understand difficult concepts, that Craven County Schools requested the FRCE engineers to build one STEM Cart for each of the district’s 15 elementary schools.
Kristi Reed, the Strategies for Success analyst with Craven County Schools, said the STEM Carts had an immediate positive impact on teachers and students who used them:
“The initial impact was to bring a focus on science into our elementary classrooms, in a way that integrated engineering and technology naturally. The cart gave teachers and students an easy way to access materials that allowed them to be creative and challenge them to take curricular concepts and apply them in a hands-on way,” Reed said.
Randall Lewis, the FabLab/Innovation Lab lead with FRCE’s Advanced Technology Integrated Product Team, said the projects and materials in the STEM Carts were designed to fit state STEM education standards, and be easy for teachers to use with their daily lesson plans:
“The students learn a lot about the weather, they learn about collecting data and making graphs; the content in second grade plays really well with the STEM carts. The idea of the cart was to make this easy for teachers to integrate into their daily schedules, sustainable and, most importantly, fun for our students to become excited about STEM.”