STEM comes to a D-38 classroom

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To conclude their unit on electricity local fourth graders put what they learned to use by making electric cars with the help of United States Air Force Academy cadets.

Cadets joined fourth graders at Lewis-Palmer Elementary School for breakfast on Valentine's Day and then assisted them in making electric cars called jitterbugs.

Fourth grade teacher Neva Nardone said she participated in the STEM Bootcamp for teachers at the academy last summer and also oversees the STEM club at LPES.

“One of the things we did in the STEM Bootcamp was to build these jitterbugs and I thought it would be a good to have the cadets come help the students,” Nardone said.

Nardone said the kids have a basic understanding of circuits. To make the jitterbugs the kids used recycled CDs, hobby motors, batteries, paper clips, wire strippers and pipe cleaners. Cadet Fourth Class Zach Graf showed students in Nardone's class how to attach the different parts to make them work while Cadet Third Class Winston Sanks assisted in Jennifer Hayden's class. Both cadets are part of the academy's STEM club.

Capt. Caitlin Thorn, an aeronautical engineering instructor at the academy accompanied the cadets to LPES and said it's important to teach the students all about STEM.

“The goal is to make sure they know what STEM is all about so they pursue these subjects in college,” Thorn said.

Nardone said the students also had a family assignment where they built electric bumper cars and they will be racing the cars in class next week. As part of their STEM learning students will also be participating in their own Mars mission.