BRADENTON – As part of a recent unit on renewable energy, "Inspiring Elementary Education" students at McNeal Elementary School built solar shuttle rides, along with hydro cars and solar cars from K'nex kits.
Inspiring Elementary Education, or I-E-Squared, is a special class that K-5 students take in week-long blocks every five weeks, focusing on engineering topics of all types in order to provide an early fundamental basis for the various engineering disciplines, while fostering interest in STEM-based careers from a young age.
The project helped them see how science can help tackle mankind's challenges like dealing with declining non-renewable fuel sources and controlling carbon emissions.
McNeal's I-E-Squared teacher, Denise Touchberry, explained that such projects allow students to get an up-close look at how such applications can be used.
“Students have the opportunity for hands-on engagement with projects involving renewable energies such as wind, water and solar, and gain an understanding of how we use those energy sources in the real world," said Touchberry.
There's even an emphasis on sustainability in the design and construction of the devices.
"Project materials are typically recyclables and/or reusable educational engineering/construction kits, from which they design and build contraptions such as hydrogenerators, solar cars, windmills, solar shuttle rides and hydro cars,” explained Touchberry. "We discuss the concepts for making these designs successful, and ideas for improving them after prototypes are completed and tested."