STEM & Project Based Learning Fair at Wisconsin Academy

STEM & Project Based Learning Fair at Wisconsin Academy

Monday, February 24, 2020 was a special day for all Wisconsin Seventh-day Adventist students in grades 7-10. Students from Adventist schools around the conference had the opportunity to travel to the campus of Wisconsin Academy to learn more about STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Not only did these students make their own projects to present in the academy gymnasium, but they also got to rotate around the campus and learn about different applied areas of STEM that they could bring back home with them. One of these rotations happened to be in Wisconsin Academy’s own Media Laboratory.

The media lab presentation, “Digital Media & Production Design” was an interesting process to watch. Mr. Tyler Cantrell, the director and instructor of the video editing class, showed many different ways to create animations, videos and presentations when it comes to projects. He first explained the quality of time, showing how much screen time a certain subject needs, how much footage must be taken and given in a video, and chronological orders for the videos to remain interesting. He then promoted different events of Wisconsin Academy within two minutes, showing how information could be presented without the massive amounts of time for preaching and promoting. These were only a few of the many possibilities when it comes to video editing.  Media is an incredible way to present and bring student projects to life.

One essential part to life is the respiratory system, and there are many healthcare workers dedicated to contributing to the wellness of people in that aspect. One such type of worker is called a Respiratory Therapist. Students had the opportunity to learn from Rhonda Yngsdal-Krenz, a Respiratory Case Manager at the American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison. Her rotation in the STEM fair was called “The Unsung Hero: Just Breathe.” Rhonda explained that Respiratory Therapists are heavily involved with people that have asthma, and are dedicated to helping them know their triggers and how to prevent the attacks. Students were also called up as volunteers, primarily ones that had asthma themselves, and they were able to talk to their peers about their condition and how it inhibits things such as physical activity, and how they treat it, for example, using an inhaler. Definitely not a ‘breather,’ this rotation ended in an awesome way with the special appearance of authentic pig lungs, which student volunteers could help make ‘breathe,’ if they so desired.

Another rotation was about “Ways We Communicate.”  Pastor Loren Nelson showed the unique ways the present generations communicate with each other. The students were shown the massive amounts of instant gratification these allow, along with the multiple platforms of social media. Communication is important in every generation because it portrays information that needs to be shared. This section taught about different signs, and how information does not have to be presented just verbally, but with physical language as well. The communication in present times is both connected and disconnected. It shows the networking, how everyone can communicate with everyone, anywhere and everywhere, but it also isolates many people because they limit themselves within a portrayal of what is online. This does not limit the fact that people can still reach those who are isolated, because they have different platforms to choose from. All they need is to try.

Mental aptitude is vitally important, but fitness is also an amazing function of our body. According to personal fitness trainer Tyler Koston, his advice is to “Do your best and forget the rest.” Fitness is what YOU can do, and not having to worry about anyone else. Students were able to see the different ways of teaching fitness, along with the opportunities when it comes to becoming fit in Tyler’s rotation, “Ageless Fitness.” You are not limited to the same workout every time, but are given many options on how to workout different parts of the human anatomy. Tyler also gave tips on how to work out, like staying relaxed as the muscles specifically worked are becoming tense, and good diets with proper health habits. The best part of fitness is the benefits it gives, at any age. No matter what situation may come, whether it be scary or challenging, it is possible to be fit!

Autonomous robots may also sound scary, as it may seem like machines would take over the world. However, not for Wisconsin’s Robotics Team called “Phoenix Force.” They were able to create a robot that extends a measurement tape for parking, program different colors and modes for sensors in order for certain commands to function, and that could stack bricks as high as the arm could reach, which is extendable by just simply adding more metal pieces. This robotics program is an inspiration for those wishing to go into engineering, as it gives willing students the opportunity to learn and gain scholarships for the colleges they wish to enter. The program teaches people in high school, starting with freshmen. It was interesting to see the Phoenix Force, which consists of high schoolers, compete and discover that they are able to go worldwide to pursue their career.

In addition to being able to see different applications of STEM, the Wisconsin Academy gymnasium was filled with different projects and experiments that the students from all the different schools were able to complete. One of these projects was a Japanese Food Truck, which served various different Japanese foods relating to a book read in English class and was definitely a crowd pleaser. Jorge Guifarro, a 7th grader at Milwaukee SDA School, was a part of this project. He says that the main thing he and his teammates learned from working on it was “teamwork, because it was hard to get along at first, but then we finally worked out our differences and worked as a team. We also got to learn a lot more about Japanese culture and the food they eat.” Another incredible project was the ‘Effect of Food Coloring on Plant and Cellular Growth.’ This experiment was designed by 8th grader Beth Zeismer, who goes to Maranatha SDA School. When asked what inspired her to do the project, she said that “Earlier in the year, the younger grades at my school performed an experiment that studied travel of water through plants.” As for the turnout? “I learned that if you want to grow something at a faster rate, like sprouts or onion shoots with food coloring, the best one to use would be blue.”

If one were to come to this event expecting a typical conglomerate school event, they would be, ironically, happily disappointed. What may sound like a humdrum day turned out to be an education-filled, hands-on learning experience, for teenagers and teachers alike. Each student and staff member that attended the STEM fair went home with newfound knowledge that they in turn could apply to their schoolwork, their school system, and their entire community.

Article written by: Charles Cruz and Ysabella Hamann, Seniors at Wisconsin Academy