UFTI’s STRIDE Center Engages in STEM Activities with K-12 Students in Alachua County

Elementary school students at Alachua County Public Schools have been learning about transportation through lively discussions and hands-on STEM activities led by Ondine Wells, the STRIDE Center’s K-12/Technology Transfer coordinator at the UFTI. At each of the school visits, Wells facilitates a discussion with students related to what engineering is and how different types of engineers must work together to create safe and efficient transportation for everyone. Students brainstorm about what types of professionals are needed in the transportation field such as planners and behavioral scientists to create a future with autonomous vehicles. To challenge students to think like an engineer, they embark on a hands-on challenge to create a space lander for two marshmallow astronauts. Adapted from the Dream Big “Touch Down” activity (https://www.discovere.org/dreambig/activities), students are given cups, index cards, straws, cardboard, and tape. Working in pairs, they craft a prototype that can safely land their astronauts when dropped from 12 inches and 36 inches. Quickly learning the value of sharing and improving on each other’s ideas, students complete the activity by enthusiastically describing what made their designs work.