Cyberchase STEM Day

Up next, we visit Cyberchase STEM Day at Centennial Middle School, a STEM magnet school in Dade City, Florida where sixth graders learn about everything from reefs and rockets to conduction and computer programming.


Up next, we visit Cyberchase STEM Day at Centennial Middle School, a STEM magnet school in Dade City, Florida, where sixth graders learned about everything from reefs and rockets to conduction and computer programming.

Here's the story.

Centennial Middle School in Dade City, Florida, is a STEM magnet school.

To kick off the new school year, they're holding a Cyberchase STEM Fair.

We're trying to get the students to realize that the science, technology, engineering, and math -- not only are they going to really be beneficial to them in the long run, as far as careers and jobs that haven't even been invented yet that they might be competitive for, but also just to realize that learning and critical thinking really can be fun.

Teacher Bobbi Starling is in charge of this STEM Fair, which goes on all day for these sixth graders.

It's comprised of six interactive stations.

There's one that is 'To Infinity and Beyond,' where they are testing to see if the shape and size of fins and nose cones effect the aerodynamics of water rockets that are launched.

At another station, they are using some virtual reality with Google Cardboards, and they're exploring underwater reefs and they're looking for signs of healthy and unhealthy reefs and comparing those.

At another station, they're coding a robotic ball called a Sphero.

And their Sphero will actually paint for them, so they're making some black-light paintings.

Another one of the stations is catapult launching.

So, there, students are actually building catapults, and they're testing to see how angle and force and speed affect the trajectory of these marshmallows.

Another one of the stations, they're actually using sumo jumping drones, and that was kind of a math focus there.

And then there's a station called the 'The Cyclone Makers,' where they are using a 21st century invention kit called Makey Makey.

And they are testing circuits and conductivity.

So, there, they are creating some different circuits that are musical.

They made game controllers out of Play-Doh.

They've made gummy-worm pianos.

You just have to hold the ground and touch it.

And Makenzie can grab me, and it also completed the circuit, so she can play, too.

[ Piano plays ] It's just one big circuit.

It was really great to actually hear the students just collaborating with each other, and then you could see the critical thinking that was going on in the Makey Makey station there.

This Cyberchase STEM Fair is part of a collaboration with PBS Learning Media, the Cyberchase program, and WEDU.

All of the lessons that we are doing today on STEM Day actually came from PBS Learning Media resources.

A lot of those were Cyberchase resources.

And so the students actually had some learning before we went out there.

We used that learning to kind of focus on our STEM Day so they could then go and test their knowledge and what they had learned and hypothesize and see what happened there.

For example, when they did the V.R. exploration, being able to use those Google Cardboard goggles and then to actually go underneath the reef and look for signs and things themselves and interact was something that had them all hooked, and they were really super-engaged.

The interactive rocket-launch program helps students prepare for launch day.

The interactive from the rocket launch is something that the kids love, because anytime that they are able to engage and interact with things, I think the learning really sticks.

And they're remembering which rocket design they picked that went the farthest, and then they're able to apply what they did there, digitally, to the actual rockets that they launched today.

Oh, wow!

One of the most popular sessions was at the Cyclone Makers room.

Daisy, from the Design Squad, introduced the students to Makey Makey, the invention kit.

And so they really were able to relate to her, and she has fun and she makes some controllers out of gummy worms to play 'Fetch!', PBS kids game.

Myka Wilks is in sixth grade and is enjoying being creative with her Makey Makey kit.

The lesson is about circuits and just making game boards, sees what's conductive and what's not conductive, or what's an insulator.

You can connect circuits and make really cool things, like a Makey Makey piano or a Makey Makey game board.

Some students use bananas, Play-Doh, and gummy worms as conductors.

Makenzie Reed joined Myka in creating a game controller using Play-Doh.

The game that we were playing was on a website called Scratch, which you can go on and find all kinds of programs.

And what we were doing was the 'Mario Bros.'

So, the Makey Makey takes what you can do on the computer and makes it bigger controllers so it's easier to access than having your fingers crammed up on the keyboard.

The lesson is about conductivity and why some materials work better than others to create a circuit.

Water is very conductive, and you can see a lot of them that are up there have a lot of moisture in them, like gummy bears have a lot of that moisture, and so do bananas.

And the Play-Doh does have, you know, the moisture to keep it malleable.

In the 'Ready, Set, Launch' room, students are learning the science behind an ancient device.

We mixed science with history.

So, they were able to take a catapult, an ancient tool, and talk about potential energy and the kinetic energy.

And the kids loved it.

They actually built their own catapult, using tongue suppressors, rubber bands, and a bottle cap and launched marshmallows.

As a history teacher at Centennial Middle, Clay loves combining history and science and watching how the students respond.

They got very competitive.

They all wanted to have the longest shot.

It started out, the first class shot 15 feet.

The final class shot 22 1/2 feet with a miniature marshmallow.


Principal Rick Saylor explains why they wanted to bring a Cyberchase STEM Fair to this new magnet school.

We thought it was a great way to kind of jump-start the year, as a STEM magnet school, to get the kids excited about learning and using some different tools and strategies that they cannot only use today, but also carry throughout the rest of the year in their learning as they achieve the normal standards we would teach during a normal school year.

Today, what I saw was -- I always called it, when I was a teacher, that light-bulb effect.

This just wasn't a light bulb.

This was a Sun going off in these kids's brains as you watched them engage in this learning, whether it be the Makey Makey station or launching a rocket, going to the catapults, using the drones, the virtual reality.

Wherever they were, you could just see the excitement and the learning.

For Bobbi Starling, it's all about preparing future scientists and engineers.

The excitement that they have from this day is going to kind of carry them forward and get them really interested in some of those STEM careers.

And there's kids that are talking about wanting to be engineers.

And there are kids that want to design rockets.

And so this kind of gives them a spark or an idea of what maybe they could look for, career-wise, to come and gets them just really excited to move forward.