The eighth grade has been studying motion in science class. This week students worked on a project that incorporated science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as they explored the subject of motion. Small groups of students built small carts out of LEGOS capable of carrying a smart phone. Using an app on their phones, students then tested for acceleration and deceleration on the ramps inside the McIntosh Center for the Arts & Sciences.

“This project looked much different ten years ago,” says Upper School Science Chair, Mr. Legge. “In the old days we measured velocity rolling small cars down ramps built of meter sticks,” he says with a slight chuckle. “The whole scope of the unit has changed, back then it was more calculation based and less focused on technology. Obviously now it is more hands on and we incorporate engineering into it as we talk about designing the carts. A few of the carts broke in trials, so the students needed to go back and problem-solve the issue to try again.”

At Powhatan, we talk a lot about 21st Century Skills – skills that will help students find success in a world of ever-changing technology and volumes of information. Critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration are widely accepted as fundamental skills for future leaders. “This particular activity required a significant amount of collaboration and critical thinking for the project to be a success,” said Mr. Legge. “I think you will get a sense of the activity from the kids through their eyes as they recap it in the video.”