State Superintendent Visits UM Campus for E³

From Staff Reports

Recently appointed Alabama State Department of Education Superintendent Michael Sentance spent the morning of Dec. 9 on the University of Montevallo campus watching elementary kids use their engineering instincts in a unique science competition.

In an effort to provide elementary students with authentic and engaging Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) experiences, the University of Montevallo, Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) and Shelby County Schools collaborated to create the E³ experience, formerly known as the Science Festival.

More than 400 elementary students, representing 27 schools and seven different systems, participated in the third annual event.

Sentance praised the event, stating how important the collaborative event was in ensuring K-12 students are prepared for higher education curriculums.

This year, a committee of science specialists, university professors and gifted education experts partnered to create activities to engage elementary engineers.

Through the E³ program, teams of third, fourth and fifth-grade students applied their understanding of STEM concepts to solve and design construction challenges.

The young teams worked diligently to compete and showcase their ingenuity without any assistance from teachers, parents or spectators.

After construction, students tested their projects and received authentic feedback from practicing engineers from Honda and Splash Adventure as well as UM professors.

Lusia MacPherson, the Shelby County supervisor of Gifted Education and Advanced Programs, lead the event.

“They actually come and are involved in on-the-spot learning activities where they get to use their thinking skills and teamwork,” MacPherson said.

The collaboration with the University of Montevallo also provides the students a college campus experience and the opportunity for them to think about future college plans.

In addition to the campus hosting the event, University President John W. Stewart III agreed to pay for lunches for all participating students.

“Some of them would not have been able to come if there was a fee,” MacPherson said. “Montevallo has been very supportive for us.”

For more information on the event, visit engagingelementaryengineers.org.