A traveling science museum made a stop at Kilgore Middle School to expand learning beyond the classroom walls and introduce students to career possibilities.
“The kids have loved it. They’ve enjoyed getting to do all of the hands-on things instead of just sitting at a desk and doing book work,” KMS sixth grade science teacher Brittany Cleveland said. “It opens the doors to different job opportunities that they might not have know about. So it’s really just introducing them to a variety of jobs that they could do and getting to see that what we’re doing in the classroom is really going to be that background to help them get to those careers.”
The Trailblazer “museum on wheels” included lessons on electricity, space, medical, turbulence and weather with corresponding experiments at each station.
Cleveland learned about the opportunity from a Kilgore High School classmate who now works with the Texas Alliance for Minority Engineers (TAME), the umbrella organization for Trailblazer.
Trailblazer visited KMS after Cleveland secured a grant through TAME for the mobile unit to spend a day at KMS. Then, Kilgore Mayor Ronnie Spradlin sponsored a second day, so each sixth grader could spend the allotted 45 minutes to go through the unit Nov. 13 and 14.
“He made it possible for it to stay an extra day,” she said of Spradlin’s contribution.
Cleveland reached out to the KHS Science Club students, fellow teachers, retired teachers and parents to find volunteers to make the experience happen.
Her goal is that the experience changes how her students approach math and science and Trailblazer can make it more exciting, she said.
“That’s what I hope that they’re seeing is the stuff that we’re doing in class and that they’re learning in school is going to help them in the future; even though they’re in sixth grade and still have a while until they finish school, that what they learn now is going to help them in their future,” Cleveland said. “And I want them to know that as their teachers, we care about their future, and that’s why we’re here is to help them reach their goals.”
Cleveland did not know how the students would react, but her hope was that they would enjoy it, she said. Other teachers have said the students have continued talking about the visit in other classes.
“I’ve gotten to hear what they’ve learned in math and science and actually apply it to what they’re doing,” she said. “It’s pretty neat.
Her favorite part about bringing the Trailblazer museum to campus has been seeing how much the students enjoyed it while learning.
“It’s really reminded me of why I went into teaching is to show them that teachers are here to help them reach their goals and that no matter what kind of background they have there’s something for everyone out there. They just have to apply themselves,” she said, noting they need to start setting goals now if they want to pursue those STEM-related careers in science, technology, engineering or math.