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STEM inspires career ideas for young learners

Fourth graders choosing science, engineering, communication options
Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 7:27 PM EDT
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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Studying science, technology, engineering and math is more than individual science projects for some elementary school students. For fourth graders at Woodland Elementary School in Oak Ridge, STEM means a path toward potential careers. For the first time this school year, students used Hurricane Katrina as a case study to inspire which profession they might choose that could help others in a time of natural disaster. They interviewed for jobs and created their own presentations.

Several teachers helped with the program, including instructor Clark Ward who said projects could be created a number of different ways, including with school-issued laptops, “Provide them guidelines, but they have the creative freedom to take whichever route they want to with it.” Ward said the school plans on doing even more career-inspiring STEM work during the next school year.

In the spring of 2016, Woodland was one of three Oak Ridge elementary schools to earn AdvancedED STEM certification. The next year, the school system could boast being the first in the state with STEM certification for all its schools from this organization.

James presented to the class about work as a hydrologist, explaining, “Had to pick a job and then you would make a resume about it and then you would get interviewed about it for the job.”

Several teachers helped with the program, including instructor Clark Ward who said projects could be created a number of different ways, including with school-issued laptops, “Provide them guidelines, but they have the creative freedom to take whichever route they want to with it.”

Hunter said he wanted to train for civil engineering like his father. “You have to study so you can get a masters and bachelor degree. I got mine at MIT,” repeating what he used in his job interview during the class. Amora also plans on civil engineering, displaying a colorful board that describes, “We could build houses, roads, bridges, stores or restaurants.” Students learned that engineering could help create stronger structures to protect people in the event of another natural disaster.

Thuviksa said, “I chose climatology because I want to help other scientists solve the problem of climate change.”

Aspring journalist Laila said she enjoys writing and helping people by sharing information like journalists did after Hurricane Katrina. “Stories! I’m working on a superhero book right now, and about what’s going on in the world.”

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