Corporate assist helps make STEM Cool in School at Southview Elementary

APPLE VALLEY, Minn. -- Aaron Pierson has an appreciative audience at Southview Elementary in Apple Valley.

The educator from the Science Museum of Minnesota has four engineering challenges for the school's fourth-graders, and it's an appreciative audience. "Science is my favorite subject," said fourth grader Jaden Gibson.

Pierson is at the school thanks to a grant from Flint HIlls Resources. "The Flint Hills program hits all of the schools in the Southern Dakota County area that are around the Flint Hills Refinery, " Pierson said.

As a team, the two are bringing STEM concepts to a school where STEM concepts are part of the everyday curriculum. "Some of our schools in our district are STEM schools, science, technology, engineering and math," explained Tracy Lynn, one of the fourth grade teachers. "Those schools automatically have more of a focus on engineering. Since we're not a STEM school, to have this assembly kind of brings that to us."

Pierson knows if he's going to hook students, he needs to make it fun, but he also needs to make it real. Among other things, students are learning how engineers solved a sound problem unique to high speed trains, and also how a family six miles away from a water supply in Africa can most efficiently move drinking water while on foot.

"It's not always just building bridges, or roads, or sound boards and electricity," Pierson said.

Fourth grader Olivia Madson summed it up. "It helps people solve problems for people who are in need of fixing a problem."

With the help of a grant, Southview is also fixing a problem -- getting required STEM concepts into the classroom without breaking the budget.


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