School science fairs with mere baking soda volcanoes are a thing of the past now that students have their hands on the latest technology.
Amherst Middle School held their First Annual Susan Stitt Global Science Initiative Exposition on Thursday, where students showed off their scientific experiments based on global topics and concerns.
The 190 projects included experiments on problems such as acid rain, salt runoff and methane gas. The students were tasked to relate these global problems on a local level over an eight week span, where they used 21st century skills to communicate and solve problems.
Students were able to use iPads thanks to a generous donation from the Bean Foundation, who gave AMS twenty of the Apple products. The devices have been used to communicate on their projects, engage them on the information and as test devices using the large number of applications available.
For example, one student used an iPad application to test the memories of different subjects, while another used it to test the reaction time of gamers versus non-gamers. Students were also tackling tough issues such as processed sugar’s effect learning, C02 levels and accidental poisoning from medicine.
The Norwin S. and Elizabeth N. Bean Foundation was established in 1967 as a general purpose foundation to serve the communities of Manchester and Amherst and, consistent with the wishes of the founders, grants are made in the fields of arts and humanities, education, environment, health, human services, and public/society benefit.
Susan Stitt had served as chair of the Bean Foundation prior to her passing last year from breast cancer. She had also been a member of the Amherst School Board for nine years, where she served as chairperson for seven of those years.
Her husband, Steve Stitt, said that his wife was a great supporter of technology and innovative methods of teaching during her time working with Amherst schools.
“My wife really felt the future was bringing the whole world together,” he said. “You can start from a little town, then the country and then the world.”
Stitt said that his wife lives on in spirit, as students use the latest technology donated from her foundation to learn essential skills to succeed in a fast-evolving world. The young students are showing no problems assimilating their learning into the 21st Century.
“[The iPad] was a lot better than computers because there are a lot more apps to use,” said AMS student Jack Arnold. “Working on my project was a lot easier.”
Faculty were also using the iPads to take pictures/video of the event to share with others. The focus on applying this new technology on global issues has been readily accepted by the science department. There are plans to expand the program and keep looking for the newest technology to connect the students to the world around them.
“We want to truly engage the kids about these topics,” said science teacher Linda Farrington.