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Hartselle Enquirer

Hartselle students glide into STEM success with The Hovercraft Project

What do you get when you put 90 elementary school students in a gym for five hours with 16 leaf blowers? According to The Hovercraft Project’s Matthew Chase, you get 1,000 units of “awesome.”  

That’s the premise of The Hovercraft Project that came to the Sparkman Civic Center this past Friday to engage with fifth and sixth grade students from Barkley Bridge Elementary School.  

Armed with only a tape measure and a piece of string, students spent several hours building their very own hovercraft using principles learned in STEAM education. A hovercraft is a low friction vehicle that rides on a thin current of air.  

STEAM Education is an approach to teaching and learning that combines science, technology, engineering, the arts and math to guide student inquiry, discussion, and problem-solving. Education experts say STEAM education is about more than developing practical skills alone. 

The Hovercraft Project is a fully integrated curriculum coupled with inquiry-based learning, according to the project’s website, meaning students can practice all subjects concurrently.  

Adults supervising the project may only ask questions to help them solve problems. The Hovercraft project also gives teachers a framework that can be immediately implemented in their classrooms through project-based instruction.  

Principal Laura Lamb said her administration has wanted to have the project visit BBE for years, but the project stays booked in advance, so this is the first year her students have participated.  

Jamie Dutton was responsible for arranging the all-day field trip.  

“It was such a unique way to expose our students to the perseverance and emotional stamina needed through several failed attempts to reach the required level of success needed in an all-day project,” Dutton said. The (students) learned many valuable life skills as they worked through their day and had a blast racing.”  

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