orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

November 16, 2013

Science on wheels

Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader

PINEHURST — Students at a local school got a chance to experience science first hand this week.

Students at West Orange-Stark Elementary School and West Orange-Stark Middle School were able to participate in a “science on wheels” program this past week as the Texas Alliance of Minorities in Engineering (TAME) its Trailblazer mobile science lab to each respective campus.

The Trailblazer II is a mobile exhibit trailer housing hands-on activities that highlight fundamental concepts in science and engineering, according to information provided by Stephanie Price of INVISTA, the co-sponsor of the program at the schools. The trailer travels to schools, libraries and community events across Texas to provide students early exposure to careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through interactive tours designed to stimulate interest and build excitement.

TAME is an organization of volunteers from industry and education dedicated to helping more Texas students pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, according to its website. Established in 1976, TAME now works to encourage and prepare as many students as possible for technical careers.

“This is our second trailer,” said Annie Carter of TAME. “We launched it this summer and we are really fortunate that groups like BASF, Shell and INVISTA stepped up to help us bring it to schools in the Golden Triangle. We bring the unit to schools, and even family night events at schools, plus science fairs and conferences. Everything is based to the TEA state standard on TEKS.”

The Trailblazer trailer offered students the opportunity to experience and learn about five modules presenting 21 exhibits and activities. These modules included aerodynamics, biotechnology, energy, space and weather.

“This program gives our kids an opportunity to learn beyond the classroom with real life applications, which makes it important to them,” said Anya Miller, principal of West Orange-Stark Elementary. “We can’t thank INVISTA enough for co-sponsoring this event and giving our children this opportunity for such a great learning experience.”

One such student is Alaysia Davis, a fifth-grader at West Orange-Stark Elementary. She enjoyed each station within the Trailblazer, but some more than others.

“I learned about some things I didn’t know. I learned about gravity and energy, and that the sun has more gravity than the Earth,” Alaysia explained. “I liked being able to use my hands. It made everything better. I liked the exhibit about air and mass the most and how it affected a ball floating on air.”

INVISTA partnered with the West Ornge-Cove Consolidated Independent School District to help offset the costs of the program and allow students a learning opportunity and experience they may not have otherwise been involved.

“INVISTA is thrilled to provide elementary students in our community the opportunity to explore basic scientific principles in a fun and engaging way,” Price said. “TAME’s ‘Science on Wheels’ exhibit gave INVISTA volunteers the opportunity to spark and encourage the curiosity of these young minds. Seeing their eyes ‘pop’ and hearing ‘wow’ again and again was very rewarding.”