Exploring STEM at Nathan Twining Elementary and Middle School

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Roxanne Belovarac
  • 319th Reconnaissance Wing

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics have taken root at Nathan Twining Elementary and Middle School on Grand Forks AFB, and the program’s popularity is growing more than anticipated.

To highlight its esteem amongst the students, teachers held an entire day devoted to STEM activities.

Events ranged from building robots, boats, and circuit boards to forensic analysis and ice cream making. The day gave students an up-close look at each element of STEM to find where their interests lie.

According to event staff, peaking student interest was quite simple; to do so, they strayed from conventional teaching methods and focused on projects and concepts that resonated on a personal level.

 “We find that students who struggle within the traditional learning environment excel through the different strategies the STEM program puts in place,” said Cathy Cute, the STEM specialist at Twining. “They are able to build skills and confidence through projects, activities, and problem-based education. The program truly brings learning to life.”

Take the forensic lab for example.

Students looked into the science behind fingerprints, how each person has their own unique identity, and how a single print can be traced back to an individual. Then, they broke down how thermal imaging works, highlighting areas the naked eye is unable to process.

The Robotics lab, on the other hand, gave students a physical approach to learning.

Students were taught how a series of parts can come together to function as a whole; in this case to create a robot. With their newfound understanding, they were given the opportunity to demonstrate their build in front of their entire class.

“I love doing this, it’s so much fun,” said Ryder, a 7th grade STEM Day participant. “I want to be an engineer when I’m older, so everything that I’m learning now is going to play a big role for me in the future.”

Enjoying in the children’s delight were Airmen volunteers from around the base. Given that the vast majority of the children are military dependents, this was an opportunity to correlate military jobs with STEM activities.

“We’re very fortunate to have the support of the military and the community as a whole,” said Shari Bilden, principal of Nathan Twining Elementary and Middle School. “Grand Forks Air Force Base is an opportune place to integrate STEM; it fits in perfectly with the experience many of the parents may have.”

The day concluded with a group photo, including base leadership, to highlight STEM and kickoff of the Month of the Military Child.