Community Collaboration on Wind Science

Wind Science Tinker Lab: A Successful STEM Community Collaboration

A preschooler turned a hand-crank fan to move a small boat across a pan of water, while a few feet away, an elementary student used a condiment bottle to blow leaves across the floor. Nearby, a middle school student held a unique mobile he had designed, while a teenager drew back the string on a wind cannon to test it. On the other side of the room, a family gathered to read a stack of books about wind. What drew all of these age and interest groups together? Surprisingly, a fascination with wind science. 

Utilizing the $500 mini-grant from the Franklin Institute and the national Leap into Science program that it won last year, Fort Scott Public Library held a wind science workshop on Monday, February 24, at the Buck Run Community Center in Fort Scott. Valetta Cannon, youth librarian and assistant director at FSPL, collaborated with Diana Alters of the Southeast Kansas Community ActionProgram, Star McClellan of Parents as Teachers, Jennifer Terell and Makayla Stroud of 4-H and the Southwind K-State Extension Office, Michelle Stevenson of the Fort Scott Early ChildhoodProgram, and Fort Scott Community College professor Ronda Bailey, along with education students Courtney Williams and Karis Mengarelli, on the project.

Grant funds were used to purchase supplies for creating wind science experiment kits, each of which included three to four science experiments in labeled bags, two books about wind
science, instructions for using the experiments, a hand-crank or battery-powered fan, glue stick, tape, and a condiment bottle. Families were also able to select age levels for their kits. Four
Airzooka wind cannons were also purchased, three of which were given away in a drawing at the end of the workshop.

24 adults, 6 teens, and 31 children attended the event, which was held in the big Buck RunCommunity Center gymnasium. Attendees enjoyed wind science experiments from the Leap
into Science curricula, including a challenge to a build something that could detect different types of wind and a tower that could withstand big gusts of wind. They were also encouraged to enjoy fresh fruit or fruit snacks, along with bottled water, at a refreshment table. Families were invited to read a variety of wind science books together, listen to a group story, and to color or fill out worksheets.
Most of the community partners came early to set up, oversaw a table or station of their own, and they stayed late to clean up. Collaborators also received science kits to use in their organizations, and Michelle Stevenson won a wind cannon in the drawing. Collaborators and community members alike expressed delight in the success of the event and hope that similar events would follow.

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