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Nicholson Elementary students soaring through STEM

Nicholson Elementary students soaring through STEM
The Partnership for Learning came to Nicholson Elementary on Tuesday to teach students about magnetism and electric currents.
David and Lee Walker, the proprietors of Partnership for Learning, engage students with interactive, project-based educational experiences. During their visit, participants made their own compasses in a bowl of water. They also watched as an electric current was used to disrupt a compass.
“We’ve done something at most elementary schools in town,” Lee Walker said, “Picayune has been so proactive in getting kids interested in science at an early age.”
A big reason for that is teacher and chair of the school’s science committee Maureen Pollitz, who applied for and received a grant for more than $24,000 dollars from the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation. The funding was awarded for “Soaring through STEM at Nicholson Elementary,” a program intended to invoke students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“Funds will be used for guest speakers to provide students with hands-on experience in real world STEM challenges, discover career possibilities and learn to make positive contributions to society,” said Pollitz.
The STEM program is for kids in kindergarten through sixth grade. Pollitz agrees with the Partnership of Learning’s ideology that getting kids interested in science at a young age is crucial. For example, Lee Walker said that kids are too often told how difficult the study of physics is before they have a chance to realize how fun it can be, which could dampen their ambitions before they ever have a chance to explore them.
“These subjects are the future,” Pollitz said, “and the kids are our future, too.”
In addition to the presentations during the day, Nicholson Elementary hosted a Family Science Night on Tuesday in an attempt to get parents involved with their child’s interactive sessions through the Partnership for Learning.
Pollitz will try to use the grant for at least one activity a month. She has already scheduled the Barn Hill Preserve for next month, who will bring live animals for an educational and hands-on presentation about exotic wildlife. She has also scheduled trips to the Mississippi Children’s Museum in Jackson for the months of December and May.

HANDS-ON LEARNING: Students at Nicholson Elementary watch Lee Walker use electricity to interfere with a compass needle. Photo by Dart Spiers

HANDS-ON LEARNING: Students at Nicholson Elementary watch Lee Walker use electricity to interfere with a compass needle.
Photo by Dart Spiers