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America needs scientists

October 13, 2005

Albany-- Seventy-thousand engineering students graduated in the United States last year. Compare that to China who sent 600,000 new engineers into the workplace.

The National Academy of Sciences says the United States will lose its global dominance if we don't improve and support math and science education and research.

Thursday, Dougherty County 3rd and 5th grade teachers were introduced to new curriculum that could turn our children into the next generation of engineers.

Call it a roll-reversal. The teachers were the students today. These third and fifth grade science and math teachers are learning about curriculum called "A World in Motion" designed by an unlikely educator - the Society of Automotive Engineers.

"What we're trying to do is spark an interest in education particularly in science, math and engineering at an early level. So, we can get kids interested and hopefully considering a career in science, technology, engineering and math," said Matt Miller of the Society of Automotive Engineers.

The three week curriculum provides teachers literature and supplies to help kids learn engineering, math and science in fun creative ways, like turning these scraps into air powered boats.

"These activities focus on force and motion, Newton's laws of motion, different variables of scientific investigation and process," said Procter and Gamble Engineer Brad Lockhart.

Lessons that kids are typically a little skeptical of and find it hard to learn, but teachers say the hands-on projects will help. Teacher Nan Ward says, "Anytime they can actually do something hands on, they don't realize they're learn but they having fun with it. It's very beneficial."

Instructor Matt Miller told the teachers that in the next 25 years, about 45% of current U.S. engineers will retire. We're not replacing those engineers fast enough and that could push the U.S. to the back of the technology global classroom. That's why the automotive industry is going into schools with this program.

"When you're enjoying something you're more likely to pursue it on your own accord," said Miller.

Hopefully these students will enjoy learning as much as their teachers did today. The automotive industry, mainly General Motors, pays for "The World of Motion" Curriculum. The school system doesn't even have to buy the supplies.

Feedback: news@walb.com

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