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A World in Motion Makes Science Exciting for Students

GIRARD, Ohio — Fourth and fifth graders at Girard Intermediate School planning careers in veterinary medicine, fashion design and entertainment, among many others, have more to consider after engineers from Delphi and General Motors' Lordstown complex brought A World in Motion into their classrooms.

A World in Motion is a six-session curriculum developed by SAE International to fuel enthusiasm for science and technology among school children from the elementary grades through high school.

This year, A World in Motion, one of two recipients of the National Science Board's 2008 Public Service Award, is being used in more than 400 school districts throughout the United States and Canada. It is the first time Girard Intermediate School has participated in the program.

The plan is for it to become an annual event at the school, reports Kathy Murphy, a senior component engineer and one of five engineers from Delphi who volunteered to serve as mentors in the classrooms.

"It's fun to watch the kids and see all of their excitement," Murphy said, as fifth graders from Chris Notareschi's class scrambled around on the floor at her feet, inflating balloons to power the toy cars they'd built using paper, plastic wheels and straws, and racing them down the hallway.

The goal is for the children to determine how to make the cars go faster, farther and straighter by adding weights, changing the size of the plastic tube that attaches the balloon to the car and making other minor adjustments.

"It's amazing to watch them figure out what went wrong and how to fix it," Murphy added.

Not only are the children learning about concepts such as friction, jet propulsion and air resistance, they're also learning to work together. Teams of three built the cars, exchanging ideas about the best way to complete the project. Then, they took turns inflating the balloons—using a ring to ensure that the balloons were uniformly inflated—and measuring distance traveled by counting the tiles on the floor. Using a stop watch, they also timed and recorded the duration of each run.

Allysa Campbell, Cody Askey and Vanessa Gresley, fifth graders at the school, were so excited about what they learned building and operating their car that the three friends plan to build more projects on their own outside the classroom.

"We want to build a boat and a hot air balloon," Allysa said enthusiastically. Like the toy car, the children plan to build the additional projects using renewable or recycled items. The wheels on the toy car, Allysa explained, are made from recycled milk jugs. The body is made from paper.

In another classroom, fourth graders carefully measured paper sails of various shapes and figured the area each sail covered before attaching them to their paper boats and sailing them across a banquet table using wind generated by a box fan.

The fourth graders' goals were to determine the effects sail shape, size and construction have on their boats' performances.

Not only did they learn about math, science and technology, they learned about careers in engineering that they may not have been aware of, she said. The mentors from Delphi and GM explained to the class the different branches of engineering and what their jobs entail and,

In all, six fifth-grade classes and six fourth-grade classes are participating in A World in Motion.

A World In Motion® is brought to you by SAE International and is funded through the SAE Foundation.