My name is Mary Celestin and I’m a senior at Archbishop Mitty High School. I’m also a Girl Scout and, as part of my Girl Scout Gold Award project, Stimulating STEM, I created a ten session curriculum for 4th-5 th grade girls, introducing them to various fields of science, technology, engineering, and math through interactive activities, and labs focused around strong
women and their influence in each of the different fields.
When I learned about AiducateNow’s STEMnUs initiative at one of their 5K races, I immediately thought, “Hey! Maybe they could use my curriculum for some of their sessions!” So, I began coordinating with the non-profit’s leaders and ended up presenting my Physics Module to those at Pajaro Valley Shelter Services Transitional Housing in Watsonville on
November 19th 2016.
My module began with 3 pre-lecture questions to jumpstart the lesson. They were 1) what is Newton’s Three Laws, 2) name one woman who’s helped the progress of physics and 3) what is gravity. The students and their families discussed the questions amongst themselves and wrote answers on their notecards. I explained that by the end of my lesson they would have an answer to all of the questions and could look back on their original answers to see what they learned. I also handed out 3 notecards to 3 younger students respectively, each notecard having one of Newton’s Laws written down. I told the students I would call upon them in my lecture to read their numbered card.
After this, I began the lecture portion of my module. I began by asking what they already knew about physics. Generally, I build off of whatever the students answer but this group was a little shy so I skipped over that part and ended up diving right into the discussion. I taught them about the importance of physics in the real world and asked if anyone had ever dreamed of going into space. Most of students exclaimed yes! So, I went on to explain that it is through physics that man has reached the moon.
We learned about Isaac Newton and I called on the chosen students to read their respective notecards to the group. After we discussed Newton’s Laws, I gave a little history of man’s attempts to reach the stars and then explained how women have played an integral role in our race to space. Then, detailing her life and accomplishments, I told the class all about Sally Ride
(the 3rd woman, 1st American, and youngest American to travel into space) and her impact on space travel.
And then, we made our own rockets! I splint everyone into 5 random groups.These activities were done in groups because most work in STEM requires a team, and in order to build rockets people have to exchange ideas and work with one another. Because I had a varied age range, Ihad them make 2 “rockets”, so as to engage both the younger and older students. The first rocket was for the “launch”. This activity is done with a film capsule, an anti-acid tablet and some water. You put some water into the capsule, place the anti-acid tablet in the capsule, seal it quickly and flip it upside down. Within moments, the tablet dissolves the air bubbles formed inside the capsule have nowhere to go but up… and you have a rocket launch! For this activity, I gave the students an array of materials from paper to rubber bands to straws and had them spend 5 minutes drawing out their “rocket design”. Once they presented their design to me, they could use their materials and start decorating around the capsule to make it the most aerodynamic.
The second rocket was for the “landing”. This activity is the egg drop lab, where the students are trying to protect their passengers (the eggs) as the come back to the ground. Similar to the first rocket, I gave the students an array of materials from bubble wrap to another capsule to tin foil along with their egg and had them spend 5 minutes drawing out their “rocket design”. Once they presented their design to me, they could use their materials and start building the best protective
casing for their egg.
I gave the groups 20-25 minutes to work on their rockets. They could also earn more materials by doing 1 of 3 things: presenting a skit about a woman in STEM and her significance, explaining to me what they want to become in the future and why, and/or teaching me about their favorite subject in STEM. There was a little bit of confusion about the fact they were making 2 rockets and that resulted in some groups only making 1 rocket or trying to meld the 2 activities into 1 giant rocket.
Before going outside, I had each group stand and present their rocket(s), explaining which
materials they used and why. The reason I had the group design for 5 minutes before building and give presentations at the end, was to limit the amount of “just because” building and expose/empower the students to being able to back up their ideas in front of an audience.
After the presentations, we went outside and I put the water and anti-acid tablets into the launching rockets and we watched which ones went the highest. Then we took the landing rockets and saw which passengers (eggs) survived the drop down to earth.
In the end, no matter which rocket(s) the groups made, I believe the students and their families had a lot of fun! I had an awesome time watching the students learn, experiment, and better understand the power of physics.