COSAM News Articles 2023 June STEM Outreach: Inspiring the future generation to be green

STEM Outreach: Inspiring the future generation to be green

Published: 06/20/2023

Participants in Science Matters Summer Enrichment Camp learned about reducing, reusing and recycling during the June 12-16 week. The camp, hosted by the Office of STEM Outreach, taught students the importance of being green.

“My favorite part of the week was when the students got to play ‘trasketball’ throwing aluminum and plastic objects through a hoop,” said Bella Harden, a senior at Auburn University majoring in elementary education. “They learned which objects were recyclable and how they can help to reduce household waste.”

Harden is one of 25 teacher candidates from the College of Education taking part in the summer program. Teacher candidates partner with experienced local teachers and use Science Matters as an applied teaching experience.

During this sustainability week, campers made their own paper from newspaper, made greenhouses, created a tree from egg containers, made solar-warmed smores and much more. One class even produced their own stop-animation videos focusing on sustainability.

The greenhouses the students made on Monday even sprouted during their camp week.

“They created their own greenhouses and they got to watch as the pinto beans sprouted in the windows of Parker Hall,” said Cowell. “They are learning so much during Science Matters and having fun.”

Heather Cowell, a teacher from Yarbrough Elementary School and instructor in one of the Science Matters classrooms, shared why this week’s lesson was special for her.

“It is interesting to build upon the knowledge these students have,” Cowell said. "Being able to share sustainability with these students was fantastic. They had special guest speakers from Auburn University’s Office of Sustainability and made a visit to the Donald E. Davis Arboretum.”

Students in the fifth and sixth grade class also visited the Nuclear Power Generation Systems Lab and received interactive, hands-on experience in running a nuclear power plant and how nuclear power fits into the sustainability cycle. Program Director, Rick Williams, explained how nuclear energy is one of many important factors in helping reduce global warming.

Students also visited Robert Jackson’s tribology lab. Jackson explained how making things more efficient plays into sustainability. “It was exciting to introduce students to tribology, the multidisciplinary study of friction and wear of surfaces. Tribology enables us to improve the efficiency of machines, vehicle energy  and the extend their useful life. Tribology research also focuses on important areas of sustainability such as electric vehicles, wind turbines and bio-derived materials.”

Students walked away from Science Matters camp learning about how living a sustainable life will improve lives for generations to come.

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