MSP/SECME Student Design Workshop

Tuskegee University and Southeastern Consortium for Minorities in Engineering (SECME) continues to focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for youth.  On Saturday, April 21, 2012, SECME held a  mousetrap car design workshop at the Tuskegee University - “Chappie James Arena and Russell Nursery.  Nearly 100 middle school students, from for of the Alabama Black Belt Region (Dallas, Lowndes, Macon, Montgomery) and over 30 Tuskegee University MSP staff members, MSP teachers, SECME staff and Tuskegee University student volunteers were in attendance.

Dr. Jeelani, Vice President of Research and sponsored programs/MSP PI & PD, spoke to the audience on how pleased we are to partner with agencies like SECME who is committed to the value of STEM educational opportunities and to help students to become our future scientists.  SECME provides the same opportunities for many students in the southeastern part of the country, allowing them to develop skills and hone into their talents.

Energy stirred and abounded as students geared up for the mousetrap car design.  The Russell Nursery was packed with student competitors and their supporters including teachers, families, friends and aspiring SECME next generation of explorers.

Both males and females were equally enthusiastic, across grade levels, about what they were gaining and learning about engineering, science and technology.  The seedling scientists were put into groups of three, to design and build their cars from a mousetrap, under the direction of the presenters:  Anthony Bowser – SECME Student Programs Coordinator,  Sheria Enahora- SECME Master Teacher Consultant, and Shaheeda Enahora – SECME Master Teacher Consultant.  Alejandro Gonzalez, SECME student intern and GA Tech Mechanical Engineering student, provided directions for the non-student population, including families and aspiring young designers, to share in the energy of building a mousetrap car.

The budding engineers used engineering calculations for building their cars.  Each three-member student team Brainstormed and used the required guidelines for the designs.  The mousetrap cars were powered by a mousetrap, for the motor, and a string to transmit force.  One end of the string  is attached to the arm on the mousetrap wheel and the other end of the string is wound around an axle, spinning its wheel  to propel the car, and balloons are used to demonstrate the concept of kinetic energy transformation. Students were encouraged, innovative, and focused.  Their actions and interests exemplified  one of the goals of MSP and SECME—to promote the integration of STEM.

The cars were weighed and measured for speed and distance.  The workshop ended with many  students qualifying for a mousetrap car run, a raffle and  random interviews.   The students indicated the  car designing was challenging but an enjoyable project.

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