Community News

ASMS, PCI partner for summer STEM program

Special to Atmore News

Cady Studdard, front, and PCI students prepare to launch a rocket
Glen Mutchnik, right, works with students

For six weeks this summer, five Alabama School of Mathematics and Science (ASMS) instructors (one each for pre-kindergarten-second graders, third-sixth graders, and seventh-tenth graders) taught hands-on STEM activities at the Poarch Creek Community Center in collaboration with the PCI Education Department. These activities, based in biology, were complementary with the PCI summer reading program “Take a Hike into Reading,” were tailored to each class, and emphasized project-based and experimental learning.
Additionally, two ASMS instructors taught a rocketry elective.
I was able to assist and capture some moments from last week’s third-sixth grade and seventh-tenth grade rocketry classes. One of the rocketry instructors, Cady Studdard, a recent graduate of the ASMS class of 2019 and former captain of ASMS’s rocketry team, has qualified and competed three times at the national level of rocketry competition and even won at both the national and international levels in 2015.
Also assisting at Poarch was Glen Mutchnik, the other rocketry instructor with Cady. He is a high school teacher in Mobile, and he taught the beginning rocketry class during the Adventures in Math and Science (AIMS) camp at ASMS this summer while also teaching at Poarch. Cady taught the advanced rocketry class at AIMS.
To give an idea of what students did during the class, Cady describes their activities stating, “For both classes, I taught them basic physics topics such as velocity, how gravity works, the chemical reactions within a rocket motor, and how drag and other elements affect a rocket during flight. With the third through sixth graders, we did activities such as making straw rockets, balloon races, and assembling ready-made Hobby Lobby rockets, which the kids were able to launch outside. With the seventh through tenth graders, we started with Hobby Lobby rockets and worked our way up to the bigger rockets and launched those as well.”
Regarding the rocketry elective, Kim McGhee, the Youth Services Coordinator at PCI, says, “It was the first year having the rocketry elective in the program at the Boys and Girls Club through the education department. This has been a great experience for us to have ASMS and have them come in to teach rocketry. The kids got to build rockets and learned the history behind it [rocketry]. They were very excited and some said they want to do it during the school year, and start a rocketry team in the future with the after-school program.”
As far as future ASMS-PCI collaborations go, Amber Day, ASMS Director of Student Recruitment and Outreach states, “ASMS looks forward to continuing the educational partnership with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.”
This summer partnership continues this Thursday and Friday (July 18 and 19), as kindergarten through Teen Center kids from the Boys and Girls Club will have the opportunity to visit ASMS and participate in more fun hands-on STEM activities on campus.