Chapel Hill Elementary STEM Day

“Can I take a selfie with you?” asked one student.

“What do you want to take a picture with me for?” responded one United States Air Force veteran.

“Because you’re one of my heroes. You paved the way for people like me. You made it possible for me to be here today,” the student said.

chapel-hills-es-stemHistory, real-world application, social significance and technological innovation are always equally represented at DeKalb County School District (DCSD). On Feb. 15 at Chapel Hill Elementary, students received them all simultaneously.

Chapel Hill celebrated STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Day, welcoming representatives from Georgia Power, Georgia Piedmont Technical College and the Tuskegee Airmen Atlanta Chapter.

The Tuskegee Airmen are a group of African-American military pilots, navigators, bombardiers, mechanics, instructors, crew chiefs, nurses, cooks and support personnel who fought in World War II. The group derives its name from all African-American pilots being stationed in Tuskegee, Alabama throughout the conflict.

According to Chapel Hill Principal Lawanzer Smith, the Airmen are one of the school’s chief STEM partners. As a reward and surprise to students, Smith organized the visit of one original Tuskegee Airman, 93 year-old Val Archer.

“This entire month, because it’s Black History Month, we are honoring the Tuskegee Airmen of Atlanta,” Smith said. “Students have been studying the Airmen and completing STEM units based on them for the past three weeks. Today is their culminating activity.”

Smith said Archer was made an honorary principal to help celebrate the occasion. This is the second time the Tuskegee Airmen have visited Chapel Hill, and Smith said students have been working hard in transforming the building into a museum in their honor. A mannequin in the lobby even brandished original medals awarded to the World War II veterans.

“When they walked the building, some of them literally saw friends that have passed away that they served with. They could not believe the tribute that we were able to give them,” Smith said.

Students also visited with representatives from Georgia Power and Georgia Piedmont Technical College’s nursing program.chapel-hill-es-stem-2

With Georgia Power, students received an in-class lecture from an education professional before building their own simple circuits. Students learned that circuits must be closed to allow electricity flow and the importance of electricity.

“Georgia Power brings out the excitement in our kids,” Smith said. “Georgia Power is all about today, now, electricity and how it works. It gets our students excited about thinking critically.”

“If it’s closed, it flows!” shouted one class in response to Georgia Power

With Georgia Piedmont, students learned the importance and science perspective of nursing. Students got up close and personal with a human body model and took turns identifying parts of the human body.

“Today is a smorgasbord of STEM,” Smith said. “We do STEM every day, but STEM Day is a day where the entire building faces the same lessons. They love STEM Day and I love STEM Day.”