The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 28, 2013

Afterschool students building skyscrapers and bridges

The Daily Item

— MILTON — More than 80 local students have been building skyscrapers, bridges and race cars after school.

Students in grades 3-12 at Shamokin Area and Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School are participating in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities through the TIES (Teens in Innovative Educational Structures) afterschool programs.

“The students are taking part in hands-on, fun activities while developing key critical thinking skills,” said Yvette Beaumont, TIES project coordinator.

Shamokin Area students in grades 3-6 are building mechanical 3-D robots to better understand the engineering process. Other projects include creating slime, learning to use virtual mapping programs and participating in math scavenger hunts. Those in grades 7-8 created geodomes made of straws and constructed ferris wheels and roller coasters using K’nex construction toys.

Lourdes Regional students built bridges and race cars using balsa wood, toothpicks and mouse traps. They learned how to relate circumference to distance and mass, and how to calculate efficiency and maximize load capacity. In the coming weeks, they will be building balsa wood replicas based on famous skyscrapers.

Advisors for the STEM programs are Lindsay Davis, Shamokin Area Elementary School; Rachel Bidelspach and Mike Keefer, Shamokin Area Middle School; and and Matt Leavens, Chris Ort and JoAnn Picarelli, Our Lady of Lourdes.

TIES afterschool and summer programming provides individualized academic support, career exploration and service learning experiences that are not available during the regular school day. Programs are available for students in grades 3 to 12 who reside in the Shamokin Area School District. There is a similar program in the Mount Carmel Area School District for elementary, middle and high school students.

A 21st Century Community Learning Center grant program funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, TIES is administered by the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit.