School Spotlight: The STEM Influence at Palmer Lake Elementary
What looks like a game of Legos aims to test critical thinking skills at Palmer Lake Elementary. Instructor Malia Haida oversaw an experiment challenging students to rethink a flawed design of a bookcase.
Haida is a Minnesota staff member of Science from Scientists, a Boston-based nonprofit working to get students excited science, technology, engineering and math.
“Last time they were building a bridge. That bridge had to hold a certain amount of weight or certain amount of people to get across a river. We also do different chemistry experiments, and we do dissections,” said Haida.
Since its founding in 2002, Science from Scientists has worked to address a workforce gap in STEM careers. Every other week scientists come to the Brooklyn Park elementary school and walk students through experiments.
“It has really just helped the students get more hands on learning,” said Kayla Badgie, a science teacher at Palmer Lake Elementary. “They really get a handle those science concepts better as well as tying that in with a bunch of new material that our district wasn’t able to provide. So that has been really great.”
Changing Attitudes About Science
Changing students’ attitudes about science is the goal. One way to do that is to perform experiments.
“Science inspires people me to do different things because people research and stuff and I like researching about things,” said Melanie Nguyen, a fourth-grade student at Palmer Lake Elementary.
“I like science because you get to build things and experiment with them,” added fourth-grader Arianna Vang.
Boston Scientific, Maple Grove’s largest employer, helped sponsor the experiments at the school.
“If you can change their way of thinking about science and engineering early on, so science isn’t just a textbook, it’s not some unknown person in a lab doing experiments. If you can show them that it is everything that they are doing all the time. It’s in every part of our life, then a lot of them will latch on to that and their excitement is infectious,” said Haida.