Thursday, Dec 08, 2016
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Education

Ships help 3rd-graders learn engineering basics

Dana employees assist with project

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Taylor Fordham prepares to release her group’s paper sailboat in front of a fan. Dana Holding Corp. members made frequent visits to her class at Holland Elementary, teaching engineering basics.

THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
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Third-grade student Danny Bussell threw his hands in the air, shouting and celebrating as his classmates surrounded him in awe.

Danny’s paper-made miniature sailboat slid all the way across a table in the front of Kelly Deisher’s classroom at Holland Elementary in the Springfield Local School District Wednesday morning.

“It was pretty amazing,” Danny explained. “I never thought it would go that far. It went through, and swoosh. It is a new record, it went 240 to 250 [centimeters].”

Danny and his group spent weeks preparing and building sail boats to see how far they could slide, making adjustments to perfect the design. Members of Dana Holding Corp. came twice a week for three weeks to work with the children on designing and teaching them some engineering basics to help build the boats.

Michael Conrad, an engineer with Dana, said they are trying to reach children at a young age and get them interested in technology.

“We’re trying to generate excitement about math and science,” he said. “We are trying to make it fun.”

Fellow third-grade student Taylor Fordham said it was fun, and they were working and playing. She talked about how her group adjusted where the paper clip was located on the boat, which changed how far it went.

Mrs. Deisher was happy about the children working together to figure out the best designs in groups. She also said it was good for the students to have someone else come in and talk to them.

“They loved having them come in,” Mrs. Deisher said of the Dana volunteers. “They looked forward to it and would ask, ‘Are they coming today?’ and get real excited.”

Several students ran up to her, faces lit up, pumped to tell about how far their sail boat went.

“Some problems with kids learning about math and science is they don’t see why it is necessary,” Mr. Conrad said. “This showed them how you can apply your learning.”

As Danny’s paper sail boat continued to make its way across the table, he raced with it, raising his hands and shouting with excitement as his classmates gathered around to see the “new record.”

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