Holmes Innovation – STEM Field Trip (10.22.2021)

On Friday, October 22nd we had our 3rd field trip of the semester, this time a virtual field trip with the 4th and 5th grade classes at the Holmes Innovation School. The theme for the day was “Natural Disasters” – which is especially pertinent now, as we are currently in a natural disaster – the COVID pandemic. (Presentation for the Day) We started the day off with a quick introduction to natural hazards/disasters, with students listing as many as they could think of, including sandstorms, invasive species (the snakehead is my go-to example, since it’s a fish that was introduced as an aquarium fish but got loose, and it eats all the fish in a pond then WALKS to the next pond), flooding, wildfires, etc. We talked about the hazard risk analysis (from the Massachusetts Hazard Mitigation Plan, see picture right), which creates a hazard rating based on the probability and consequence of each disaster and we looked at vulnerable populations in Boston (to natural disasters). Next, students worked in teams to come up with Disaster Plans (what to do before, during, and after) and Emergency Kits (what supplies to always have ready in your home) for a variety of different natural disasters that threaten Boston. Next, students did a hands-on engineering build activity, in which students roleplayed civil engineers designing stilted houses to resist coastal floods / storm surge: i.e. building paper houses at least six inches tall that supported as much weight (i.e. the house on stilts) as possible. Some really interesting designs, with some teams taking on the extra challenge to build even taller (than 6″) houses that still supported a significant amount of work (sadly, no pictures).

Next, students participated in a creative writing activity -> as an engineer, being able to write and being creative are both critical skills, so creative writing is a good way to practice both. Plus -> the activity ties directly into natural disasters: Natural Disasters and Story Telling -> i.e. using narrative to cope with a natural disasters. Students wrote stories, poems, song lyrics, drew pictures of their experiences in our current disaster (COVID pandemic).

Finally, we wrapped up the day with a student STEM/College 101 Q+A panel, in which the students from the Holmes asked our Northeastern student volunteers questions about college and/or STEM in general. Thank you to our volunteers today: Maya, Karen, Gabby, and Catrin (welcome first time volunteer!).

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