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BYU event makes math and science fun for students

How do you make fractions fun? Turn them into a basketball game. How do you teach students about mechanical engineering and propulsion? Let them build their own self-propelled rubber band race car. How do you show the crippling effects of traumatic brain injuries to kids and help them to understand the intricate network that is our nervous system? Stick a tens unit on their arm and have them try not to let their fingers curl while the electrical stimulators are telling to curl.

These were just some of the engaging activities that Brigham Young University students used to share their love of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) with sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders from all over Utah. The university and grade-school students met up at Discover STEM, an event held at BYU to explore and engage in activities related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics provided by BYU students in these fields of study.

“I love the look on kids faces when I tell them that problem they just solved or that game they just played was really math,” said Sarah Brooks, one of the students volunteering her time at the event. “They’re so surprised when we show them how much fun math can be.”

The hands-on activities had participants feeling - as well as thinking - about the concepts they were being taught. Whether they were using AA batteries and jumper wires to power a small motors or iPads to program codes for interactive robots, students could see the practical applications of the science and math they are learning in school.

“My favorite part was the virtual reality roller coaster,” said David Moore, a seventh-grade student at Salem Junior High School. “It was like getting to see the future.”

Helping students see the future is what the sciences are about, and helping students see themselves in that future is what Discover STEM is all about.