Beyond the Book Work
By Gary McLain
I recently visited Livingstone Adventist Academy for a groundbreaking ceremony. They have begun the process of building a new school structure to hold grades K-12. I asked the science teacher, Robbie Wheeling, what I didn’t know would be such a loaded question, "So, what are some of the things you're doing in your science classes?"
As we came into the classroom, students were busy working on a robotics project. There were students designing on computers, and another group working to program a servo that they would use to control the project via their smart phones. This was no small or simple robot. It had tires, tracks, gears, a lift system on the front, electric motors, and circuit boards!
There were airplanes made of foam hanging from the ceiling and sitting on desks, and no, they're not from kits you buy. Students were given blocks of foam, and each one shaped the fuselage, wings, and affixed a motor and servos to remotely control each plane. Then they tested their planes to see if they would fly. Some did better than others. If the plane didn't completely disintegrate on the test flight, they were refined to fly even better.
Next we moved onto the lab where the typical counter tops, sinks, Bunsen burners, graduated cylinders, test tubes, beakers, and safety goggles reside. A couple large saltwater fish tanks hugged the west wall where sea anemones, starfish, coral, and various fish provided a colorful addition to the room.
On the east side of the lab were gardens of seedlings under grow lights. Tomatoes, peppers, and several varieties of flowers add oxygen to the lab. These will soon be planted out in the garden on campus, either in the greenhouse or in the ground. Two brand new greenhouses are yet to be set up. One will be used all winter long and the other will be for spring and summer time use.
And, of course, there is still the classroom book learning, and the labs that go with the lessons.
After the tour we came back to the classroom where the robotics team had been troubleshooting the smart phone-controlled servo. Sure enough, they succeeded. The servo was moving the robot to the left or reversing with the touch of their phone's screen.
It's so fun to see the passion of our teachers and their desire for our kids to learn and experiment beyond the classroom!