AUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC)- When we take a look at test scores, it is easy to see our country is falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to science and math. One school in Austin is trying to change the trend by getting kids excited about science at an early age.
It is hard to imagine the difference a day could make in the professional future of a sixth grader, but as a teacher at Ellis Middle School can attest to, it can make all the difference in the world.
CO2-powered dragsters hit the track on Tuesday, all crafted by students at Ellis Middle School, an activity that has been around for years.
"And it incorporates design and some artistic ability and woodworking skills to create a dragster that is primarily made to race as fast as possible," explains Steve Weisgram, the Industrial Tech instructor at Ellis Middle School.
It is a day that also includes some sailboat races, with the boats also made by the students. Could significant education be disguised as a fun activity?
Through a lot of careful instruction and significant creativity, the students get their cars read to go on the track, and their moment of glory only lasts about a second and a half, but that hard work could lead to a bright future in science and engineering.
The United States is graduating fewer and fewer students with engineering degrees, a trend that Mr. Weisgram can see changing with activities like making a car.
"One was at the University of Minnesota and one was at the University of North Dakota, and they were both majoring in engineering and they said 'This is where I got my start, this is where I got my interest."
What about the kids? What do they think of it all? Could the students see themselves considering a career in engineering after building their vehicles?
"Maybe," says 6th grader Caleb Overby. "I might work with aerodynamics."
"It was my favorite project of the year," shares 7th grader Sydney Bina.
They are still young and only time will tell, but the looks in all of their eyes say they are engaged and loving every moment of the science and math they are taking in.
The students look forward to putting their products to the test, and even past students return to tell the instructor they still have their boat and dragster to remind them of the fun that math and science can provide.
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