There is something electric about seeing young people present on their own ideas and explorations. So, if you experienced a slight brightening of your lights last night, it may be because of the high voltage output emanating from the Carnegie Institution where explorers from five different community-based youth programs shared their experiments and experiences from participating in the Trust’s DCIBL project.
Over the years, the Trust has facilitated and sponsored a wide array of STEM projects for young people in out-of-school time program, but DCIBL (DC Inquiry-Based Learning), has been its most ambitious. Thanks to a generous grant from the American Honda Foundation, this six-month journey for middle and elementary schoolers first led young people through the hands-on curriculum of “Experimenting with Forces and Motion” from the Smithsonian’s National Science Resources Center — and then guided them in using the same steps of scientific inquiry to develop and implement their own experiments. At their side on this road were their program staff, developing new skills in facilitating STEM, and “STEM Advisors,” doctoral candidates in Biomedical Engineering from Catholic University lending expertise and telling stories of their own journeys into STEM.
In front of an excited crowd last night, these young explorers, armed with PowerPoint’s, videos, graphs and charts took their audience through making hovercraft using the Bernouli principle – experimenting with elastic force and trajectory during slingshot tests – comparing the relative merits of nitrogen vs. electric-powered model cars — exploring the friction of different track surfaces – even using Xbox Kinect to determine which kind of movement (African Dance, Hip-Hop, Yoga, or Calisthenics) burned the most energy. They also fielded questions from the audience, many of which were from….other young people.