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Hands-On! and JCS team up to offer after-school STEM activities

Hands-On! and JCS team up to offer after-school STEM activities

Funding provided by a 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) grant, has enabled Fairmont, Woodland, Liberty Bell, and Indian Trail students to learn alongside staff members of the Hands-On! Discovery Center.  Using  21st CCLC funds, Johnson City Schools has contracted with the  Hands-On! Discovery Center to facilitate STEM lessons in after-school science clubs.

“We have enjoyed our partnership with Hands-On! Discovery Center,” Johnson City Schools Family Resource Coordinator Terry Jones said. “The students have really enjoyed getting the opportunity to participate in the activities that Hands-On has been able to provide to us throughout the year.”

The activities included Shocking Science, which allowed students to explore circuits, batteries, LED gadgets and robotics. Students also completed an activity called Superhero Science, which unmasked the science behind favorite superheroes and their superpowers. Another lesson included forensics and provided students with the opportunity to extract DNA from a strawberry, complete fingerprint dusting, and evidence analysis.

“The main goal is to have fun and to also really learn something,” Hands-On Outreach Coordinator Caitlin DeCuir said. “So, with stuff like this, we want them to know that it’s okay to get messy, but also you learn. It’s the end of the day and it’s okay to make a mess. With the activities we did today, there really isn’t a perfect answer, you just have to try and figure out what works for you and then get it done.”

At one science club meeting, Fairmont students completed the lesson entitled Space Rangers, which allowed them to explore the universe, planets, gravity, and participate in mock astronaut training. Part of this activity allowed them to learn about different crater impacts as they dropped a variety of weighted objects into a container filled with flour and cinnamon to represent the different layers of earth.

Fairmont 4th-grader Levi Worley said he has enjoyed all of the activities, but his favorite was the egg drop. Worley said he enjoyed the activity because it provided him an opportunity to learn about engineering and building something to protect the egg.  “They’ve been a lot of fun because the activities are hands-on, and we don’t always get to do a lot of that in class,” Worley said. “We do a lot of projects and I really love that about science club.”

Fairmont 3rd-grader Kyrell Smith is also in the science club and said it is something he really looks forward to and it has piqued his interest in science. “I enjoy getting to learn with my friends and doing all of the fun experiments,” Smith said. “I really enjoy the hands-on activities that we get to do.”

Robbie Anderson, Director of Accountability and School Improvement, noted, “Teachers in the Johnson City Schools have always recognized the value of having Hands-On! as a learning resource in the community.  In the past, we’ve appreciated Hands-On! as a field-trip destination; this year we are fully engaged with the discovery center as an educational partner at our school sites.”