Young Students of Flight to Land at GCU for Six Saturdays
By Janie Magruder
GCU News Bureau
Gifted elementary school students from around Arizona will visit Grand Canyon University on Saturday mornings for the next six weeks to study flight during a program hosted by GCU’s College of Education and the Arizona Alliance of Black School Educators.
The STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) Enrichment Program will be held from 9 a.m. to noon this Saturday and on Oct. 12, 19 and 26 and Nov. 2 and 9 in classrooms at the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions. Eight GCU education students will assist area engineers, mathematicians and other professionals in teaching the estimated 50 students coming to campus, said Marjaneh Gilpatrick, executive director of educational outreach for the College of Education.
Improving STEM education is one of President Obama’s top priorities, and American companies have contended that not enough U.S. workers can be found who are qualified for openings that require a science background.
The theme of the hands-on STEAM program is flight. Students in grades three through five will be learning about climate and environment, historical leaders in math and science, and careers today in the math/science/engineering fields, and they’ll even building mechanical birds.
Third-graders will explore various flying machines and discover motions of flight, while students in fourth and fifth grades will work together to build and analyze the air travel of an ornithopter, a flying machine that imitates birds by the flapping of its wings, said Zel Fowler, president of the Arizona Alliance of Black School Educators.
“Students receive instruction directly from engineers, which provides them with mentorship and an authentic learning experience, and allows them to connect classroom learning with real life,” Fowler said. “The program teaches students about engineering and other STEM professions, which broadens their imagination about who or what they can be when they grow up. Having the program at GCU provides students with a college connection where they are not only hearing about college, but they’re experiencing it.”
The program has more than doubled in size from 20 students a year ago to 40 last spring and 50 expected this semester, Fowler said.
“GCU is involved in this because it aligns with our conceptual framework about leading, learning and serving,” Gilpatrick said. “We want to be a part of leading our students to become adept in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We want our students to learn to implement those ideas and strategies in our future classrooms. And we want to be a part of serving this curriculum to Arizona students who may not be able to receive this information in their regular classrooms.”
Contact Janie Magruder at 639.8018 or [email protected].