ALBANY, GA (WALB) – American school kids are falling behind many of their peers worldwide in science, so educators are looking for better ways to teach students. One way is making science fun. Dougherty County students took a trip to Chehaw Park to try out some fun ways to learn science Friday.
Joseph James and Kristopher Bradshaw are fifth graders at Radium Springs Elementary School in Albany. But they're also race car designers. Using a dozen straws, a few pins, a piece of paper and some tasty looking wheels, they have to build a car.
But there's no engine involved... just a good set of lungs.
And they've been working on their technique. "Every day we go in front of our classroom and practice. And once we go out there and practice we get better and better each day," said Bradshaw.
The goal is to push their car from the starting line to the wall on the far side of the room. It's 22 feet, not exactly a NASCAR distance, but Jeff Gordon isn't using his breath to push a car across the finish line. After one practice run, Joseph was ready to go. "When I blew it the first time, I was good."
The competition is fierce, but in the end, both Jonathan and Kristopher push their cars the distance and are declared the winners. "I didn't think it was going to go that far."
The fifth graders also learned to find their way by using only a compass. For the third graders, there was the exciting gunk stretch. The idea is pretty simple, mix up some gunk and see how far it will stretch before breaking. And there were numerous other events as well.
"Pasta bridge, straw bridge, aerodynamics, egg drop. Each grade has three events that they take part in," said Lake Park Elementary Teacher Janna Fratwell.
Events like the puff mobile event here at the Science Olympiad are fun, but they're also designed to teach students that science isn't just something that they read out of textbooks.
What the nearly 300 students who were at Chehaw today don't know is that they're learning scientific principles. Things such as elasticity. And the students seem more interested in the topics when they can do it themselves.
"Anytime you can get the students to get excited and get involved and have a hands on activity. They just do such a great job," said Fratwell.
For the students, today's event could ignite the spark of interest that will lead to a future in the subject. And maybe lead to the next great engineer. This is the 11th year for the Science Olympiad. 16-schools from around Dougherty County took part.