With a one-time donation of $2,000, Linda Vista Adventist Elementary School (LVAES) has implemented a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) lab for our fifth- through eighth-grade students. Students spend 40 minutes twice a week absorbing real-life skills that bring textbook learning alive and provide the opportunity to use cool technology through theme-centered building challenges.

This year’s theme is transportation. Students began by learning about internal combustion engines and basic mechanics, culminating in groups of two disassembling and reassembling lawn mower engines. From there, they’ll move on to the future of vehicles: electric cars. Students use professional-level CAD software on their iPads to design their own cars and engineer how the components will fit. The students will turn their virtual models into reality with their 3D printer and assemble a circuit that includes a motor, switch, and at least two LEDs. It will culminate in a design contest and an endurance race across our parking lot.

From electric cars, they will move on to rockets. Students will build model rockets, including designing and printing their own nose cones, fins, and motor mounts. A software program allows them to model the potential height of their rocket’s trajectory and calculate the center of pressure, which they’ll confirm with their wind tunnel to ensure safety. The project will culminate by launching the rockets from the LVAES field.

Originally published in Pacific Sunrise.