GM offers a 'World in Motion'

November 16, 2010 - By BOB COUPLAND Tribune Chronicle

LORDSTOWN - Lordstown Elementary School fourth- and fifth-graders have been learning what engineers do as part of a six-week program called a "World in Motion."

The program was started by the Society of Automotive Engineers with General Motors, which helps students and teachers to use math, science and technology as they take part in engineering and design.

Christina Kappler, a fifth-grade math teacher, said the program lets students and engineers work together using creativity, problem solving skills, and scientific approaches to build a jet toy or skimmer. She said students use math and science-related skills they have learned in class as part of the problem solving.

Six engineers from the GM Lordstown Complex helped the students.

Wendal Shaw, a senior electrical engineer with GM, said the program was started after people in the industry saw statistics showing fewer people are entering the engineering field.

"Our country was behind other countries in the engineering fields. Industry wanted to do something to change that trend," Shaw said.

Shaw said while fourth- and fifth-graders are participating now, third- and sixth-graders may possibly be added in the spring.

The fourth-graders made a skimmer boat that moves across a table or floor when blown by a fan. Students showed how different sails made the skimmer travel different paths and distances.

The final day of the program is Thursday, when there will be presentations to see how the vehicles work.

Many students said they have learned a variety of new information through the program.

"I like that the GM people are coming to the school and that we are going to be able to build something. The most fun part has been the testing and seeing how what we built works," said fifth-grader Sam Wells.

Dominic D'Amico, also a fifth-grader, said he liked the designing and testing.

Fellow fifth-grader Amanda Vyse said she liked the creativity involved in designing the craft.

Kappler said the program has sparked interest in engineering and technology. She said the students were very interested in the movement of their vehicles.

Phyllis Abruzzino, a fifth-grade science teacher, said much of what is learned in the science curriculum can be utilized in the project.

Mayon Maxey, an engineer, said the jet toy taught students about friction, averages and recording data.