Worms in Space
Manchester charter school students work on NASA's Worms in Space study
Fourth-grade teacher Laura Blouin works with Charity Joyner, right, as Mill Falls Charter School students work on a project about space at the University of New Hampshire STEM Discovery Lab in Manchester on Tuesday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
Fourth-graders from Mill Falls Charter School, including Finneran Steele, left, work on a project about space at the University of New Hampshire STEM Discovery Lab in Manchester on Tuesday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
University of New Hampshire professor Lauren Provost teaches a fourth-grade class from Mill Falls Charter School at the UNH STEM Discovery Lab in Manchester on Tuesday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
They will be comparing the results of their experiments with worms and butterflies with those of NASA.
Provost said the Orion project is a way to make science accessible and part of everyday life. While this project may seem like fun to the students, she said: "They are getting some solid knowledge in the STEM disciplines."
Bridging the gap
Too often, there's a disconnect between what's studied in class and the real world, and the projects at the Discovery Lab are designed to bridge that gap.
Jordan, whose current career choice is veterinarian, is curious about the "space" worms. She's familiar with the "earth" variety. "I've rescued worms," she said, moving them off hard surfaces after they've come to the surface in heavy rains and are easy targets for predators or accidental squashing.
The programs being offered this fall are just the start, said Paul Bencal, director of the Emerging Technology Center. The plan is to have four sessions a year, focusing on different elements of STEM. The courses will be tailored to various student levels, and as time goes on those levels will change.
In the not-so-olden days, Bencal said, computer science was just for high school students. Also, he said: "Kids were discouraged from going into engineering if they weren't strong in math."
For now, Orion's Quest and ALICE are offered to elementary students. For students in grades 6 to 8, there are two options. Texting Olympics covers the complex mathematical concepts behind texting, while Mobile App Development, is an introduction to developing applications for smartphones and fundamental computer science concepts.
And in January, Tom "TK" Kuegler, co-founder and general partner of Wasabi Ventures, will help high school students learn the fundamental skills needed to create a successful start-up business in a course called Technology Start-up Boot Camp.
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