Penns Valley

Education on Centre: Penns Valley students take STEM education to next level

Fifth-grade students at Penns Valley Elementary and Intermediate School participated in a class project that allowed them to make machines that tested different variables. The project included making pendulums, catapults and boats that float. Some machines were then showcased at a science fair in the school’s multipurpose room.
Fifth-grade students at Penns Valley Elementary and Intermediate School participated in a class project that allowed them to make machines that tested different variables. The project included making pendulums, catapults and boats that float. Some machines were then showcased at a science fair in the school’s multipurpose room. bmilazzo@centredaily.com

There’s an advantage to getting to an assignment early.

On Wednesday, I made my way from the Centre Daily Times newsroom to Penns Valley Elementary and Intermediate School for the monthly school board meeting.

It’s been about a month since I’ve been out that way. I mistimed the approximately 20-mile drive and arrived about a half-hour early.

I strolled around the school as other activities were going on and stumbled on a science fair that took STEM in a cool direction.

The mission was to engage students in science, technology, engineering and math, and teachers said the project partnered primary school kids with high schoolers.

“We’re flinging, floating and flipping our way through physics,” Kristen Albright said.

The Penns Valley Area School District tech coach said the goal was to put a tech emphasis on a project that allowed groups of students to create similar contraptions to the Rube Goldberg machine.

This year’s theme was to make apparatuses someone could see at a carnival or amusement park.

By working with “variables,” teachers Shelley Feltenberger and Monica Kieffer said they encouraged students to make catapults, pendulums and other apparatuses.

And when the project started about two weeks ago, about 100 fifth-graders got part of the lesson from high school students who had knowledge of the subject.

“They can relate with each other, and it makes it a lot of fun,” Feltenberger said.

Students were also encouraged to use supplies found in the school’s Maker Space — a designated area in the library that helps students learn though play and education.

“The tech role was in the engineering of it all,” Albright said. “They used circuits that gave their machine power, and added a little sizzle to the project.”

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

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