Engineering a better neighborhood: How this kids program is making STEM hit home - Baltimore


May 9, 2017 8:11 am

Engineering a better neighborhood: How this kids program is making STEM hit home

Some built robots. Some hacked pogo sticks. It was all part of the SABES program, which is a STEM partnership between Johns Hopkins and city schools.

Students at Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School with their trash-collecting robot.

(Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School students built robots. At Barclay Elementary/Middle School, students found a new use for the old-fashioned pogo stick.

On Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Campus last week, students showed off what they created as part of a new approach between the university and city schools.

STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools, or, as the balloon letters in the front of the gym indicated, SABES, looked to provide a curriculum that helped students come up with a solution in their own neighborhood.

Serenity Kenny was one of the students explaining how the teams identified a problem and engineered a solution. She and other fifth-graders at Barclay affixed a wider base to pogo stick for crushing aluminum cans. Along with helping to clean up, it encourages recycling. And, they get a little money back. (And some exercise.)

“We are saving our money we get by crushing cans for a pizza party,” she said.

The university and Baltimore City Public Schools received a $7.4 million grant for the five-year pilot program from the National Science Foundation. Last Wednesday’s event was designed to cap off the pilot, but the effort will keep going and expand to more schools, said Christine Newman, assistant dean of engineering educational outreach at Johns Hopkins.

Serenity Kenny of Barclay Elementary/Middle School. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Serenity Kenny of Barclay Elementary/Middle School with her can-crushing pogo stick. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Stephen Babcock

Stephen Babcock is Market Editor for Baltimore and DC. A graduate of Northeastern University, he moved to Baltimore following stints in New Orleans and Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Baltimore Fishbowl, NOLA Defender, Times-Picayune and the Rio Grande Sun.


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