S’mores get scientific during field trip to TTU’s STEM Center

thumb solar_oven_assemblyStudents from Avery Trace Middle School had an afternoon snack they made themselves, in their own solar ovens, during a visit to the Millard Oakley STEM Center at Tennessee Tech University.
About 80 sixth-graders took a field trip to the STEM Center with their teachers, Kyle Rivers, Kayla McCord and Kristy Maxwell, for an EXPEDITION session. The students learned about the properties of absorption and radiation and the importance of controlling a laboratory environment during experiments.
After testing different materials that they would use to make a solar oven, including cotton balls, aluminum foil and cardboard pizza boxes, the young scientists tested their ovens by making s’mores.  
The prep work paid off at snack time, and the students learned the value of writing and recording accurate data, checking their math when counting materials and making calculations, and having a hands-on experience with lab equipment as simple as a roll of tape or as complicated as a specially-programmed, hand-held computer that controls a variety of laboratory test equipment.
“I wish I was still in school and this was my classroom,” said Maxwell, who teaches science at Avery Trace. “I wish this was my classroom now.”
Throughout the fall, the STEM Center will host more than 400 elementary and middle school students during the EXPEDITION trips. Other students taking part are from Cumberland County Home Schools, Prescott South Middle School, Pine Haven Elementary School and the Putnam County Peak Program.
Gail Gentry coordinates the EXPEDITION program at the STEM Center, which routinely engages students and educators in hands-on learning experiences in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
For more information about the STEM Center, visit www.tntech.edu/stem/home