5th graders are challenged to invent a safe amusement park ride at MathMovesU event

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Tuesday morning, 5th graders came together at the University of Alabama in Huntsville with the Alabama Math Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) and Raytheon to learn about engineers-- what they do, and how they do it.

"Problem-solving and they plan, and if something doesn't work, they test it," brainstormed 5th grader Annamae Metcalf.

The organizations challenged local 5th graders to solve some problems. But of course, the students had to use their imaginations.

"We want to be developing citizens who are comfortable in mathematics, science, anything STEM related because these are our soon to be adults who will be solving problems for us, who will be inventing new things," said AMSTI Director Sheila Holt.

The MathMovesU program is all about encouraging students to create, invent, and solve a problem. Today, the 5th graders posed as engineers for an amusement park. Their mission was to create a "daredevil ride" that would be safe and fun for passengers.

"'We want them to have these experiences now to realize that problem solving is fun," Holt said. "Problem-solving can make a difference in society, and we want them to experience it at an early age."

With Styrofoam cups, straws, tape and construction paper, teams built a ride that was supposed to slide down a daredevil pole without any ping pong balls (AKA the passengers) falling out.

In the end, there were some ping pong ball casualties but lessons were learned, which makes this project a success.

"I learned to not give up and try again and try again," Metcalf said.

AMSTI and Raytheon hope to continue this program annually and inspire students to realize the potential of a future career in science, technology, engineering, and math.

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