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Operation Patriotic STEM

Marymount University makes science fun at Ft. Belvoir Elementary School.

Brian Powell, an M.Ed. in elementary education candidate, and Jacquelyn Castillo '14, a multidisciplinary studies major with PK-6 teaching licensure, run the stomp rocket activity.

Brian Powell, an M.Ed. in elementary education candidate, and Jacquelyn Castillo '14, a multidisciplinary studies major with PK-6 teaching licensure, run the stomp rocket activity. Photo Contributed

As stomp rockets flew through the air, balloons expanded, and electricity set hair standing on end, children at Ft. Belvoir Elementary School didn’t know which hands-on science activity to try first.

They were participating in Operation Patriotic STEM, an evening of science activities organized by Marymount University. Dr. Usha Rajdev, Marymount associate professor of Education, has established a partnership with the Ft. Belvoir school to “give back to U.S. military families who sacrifice so much for us.”

For the evening’s activities, she brought in educational partners Rick Varner from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Elizabeth Burke from Project Learning Tree, and Tammy Maxey from Agriculture in the Classroom.

Marymount master of education candidates and undergraduates studying to become elementary school teachers were joined by students in Dr. Eric Bubar’s physical science course staffed the hands-on activities, which included creating lightning and static electricity with van de graaf generators; viewing Jupiter and the moon through a telescope; papermaking; stringing earth-bead bracelets; making and launching stomp rockets; learning about covalent bonds by using milk, food coloring and soap; playing a resource-matching game; making seed buddies that use body heat to help seeds germinate; and inflating balloons with baking soda and carbon dioxide.

Next year, the partnership with Ft. Belvoir will expand. Undergraduates in the Teaching Mathematics and Science course will spend Wednesdays at Ft. Belvoir. In the mornings, they will learn a hands-on math lesson, then immediately teach it to a class at the school. In the afternoon, they will do the same with a science lesson.