Sep.2 – Sixth-grader Aiden Dickinson says it was his first time using a compound bow, but he felt he got the hang of it pretty quickly.
“I even hit the center once,” Aiden said.
After shooting a few arrows, he and his classmates were guided to a nearby tent where an instructor walked them through the steps of what makes archery possible in a session called “The Science Behind the sport”.
There, the sixth graders discovered the cams at each end of the bow which look like pulleys and help to pull the cables from the bow more easily.
They then learned the trajectory of an arrow once it is released from a bow and how a certain level of force is required for an arrow to hit its target.
With this knowledge stored, the students returned to the archery field to continue shooting arrows, but now with the understanding of the science and skills that made it all possible.
It’s all part of the week-long Science Adventure School, a collaboration between West Virginia University and the Summit Bechtel Reservation, where sixth-grade students from Independence Middle School spend hours of school immersed in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) pursuits at the sprawling reservation in Fayette County.
While it may seem like simple fun and games as middle schoolers shoot arrows at targets and race up ramps with BMX bikes, they also learn the science associated with each activity.
Students also participated and learned the science of cycling, climbing and paddling.
Sixth grader Kayleigh Williams said the most interesting subject she had learned so far was rock climbing. As an aspiring doctor or pharmacist, Kayleigh said she’s always been fascinated by how people’s bodies work.
“With rock climbing, we learned about human anatomy and how your legs do the job,” she said.
Robin Feldhake, a seventh-grade math teacher at Independence Middle, said she enjoys watching students have fun learning concepts they can immediately apply to real-life situations.
She added that the camp is not just about learning STEM, it is also about learning social skills that have been hampered in recent years by Covid.
Ali Jeney, principal of the Science Adventure School, said making those social and emotional connections is one of the main components of the program’s curriculum.
“We don’t just want them to have those experiences here,” Jeney said. “They don’t just come and learn and then they’re done.”
As it takes place at the start of the year, Jeney said the hope is that the camps will help these students as they transition from elementary to middle school by creating positive experiences that are shared with their peers and teachers.
She added that there is also an environmental education aspect to the program where students learn about different types of soil, test water samples from the nearby New River and learn about the importance of sustainability when it comes to soil. concerning the forest ecosystem.
For one of the learning sessions, Jeney said students take a quick trip to Thurmond, which is located in New River Gorge National Park and Reserve, where they can learn from park rangers about the animals that live there. in the river as well as what kinds of tests they perform to determine the health of the New River.
“We learned it was sort of healthy today because we found a lot of crawfish,” Aaron said.
Reneé Richardson, a sixth-grade science teacher at Independence Middle, said this was her third time attending Science Adventure School with students.
She said she noticed her students were more engaged in her class and excited to learn after they returned from camp.
“It’s just a great opportunity to learn in an environment outside of the classroom,” Richardson said.
Over the next few weeks, sixth graders from the four remaining middle schools in Raleigh County will all have the chance to participate in the Science Adventure School, which began in 2019.
For more information about the program, go to scienceadventureschool.wvu.edu.