RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Fourth-graders at Bernalillo Elementary got a taste of environmental science Friday as part of a hands-on learning event held at five schools in the U.S. and Latin America.
Teacher Amber Braden led her 22 students outside the classroom for a walk along a nearby arroyo to measure humidity, ambient temperature and GPS position.
The experiment was possible thanks to four Labdisc data loggers – devices about the size of smoke detectors with 14 wireless sensors.
Boxlight, the manufacturer, donated the $550 data loggers as part of its new STEM Day initiative, which aims to bring science and technology curriculum to low-income schools.
Braden’s class participated along with students in Tucson, Ariz.; Coweta County, Ga.; Jalisco, Mexico; and Sacatepéquez, Guatemala.
“This is really a gift to our school,” Braden said. “We’re getting these kids excited about science and math, and giving them opportunities that wouldn’t be available to a school like us during this budget crunch.”
Albuquerque education company Team 1st Technologies worked with Boxlight to coordinate the experiment and trained Braden on the Labdisc system.
Team 1st Technologies founder Trisha Dworsky, a former teacher, said it’s rewarding to see children get excited about science, technology, engineering and math, high-paying fields with strong job markets.
“They have been amazing in their interest,” Dworsky said. “If we can get these kiddos to know this stuff by the time they get to high school, they will be ahead.”
During the walk, the students noted temperature changes from shade to sun and higher humidity near a creek.
It’s a cooler way to learn than just reading a textbook, according to 10-year-old Nathan Encinias Jr.
“I like actually doing science,” said Encinias, who particularly enjoys studying bugs.
Alyssa Baldonado started thinking about career options after the data-collection walk.
“Some people have to know about humidity and temperature for their jobs,” she said.
Back in the classroom, Dworsky and Team 1st Technologies trainer Carmen Trujillo charted the students’ data and helped them come up with hypotheses.
For instance, could kids’ body temperatures impact the readings?
“This is inquiry-based,” Trujillo said. “It’s about making learning real.”