SAE International Grant and Nissan Provide STEM Resources

students work on fuel cell in science classStudents in three FSSD schools have had the unique opportunity to make meaningful connections in their middle school STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) classes using materials and resources provided by SAE International and Nissan. These hands-on activities correlate with the Next Generation Science standards and the Tennessee Academic standards.

In August, teachers from Freedom Intermediate, Poplar Grove Middle and Freedom Middle gathered together to learn how to teach students using STEM resources such as gravity cruisers, motorized toy cars, gliders and fuel cells. This professional learning centered around the A World In Motion® (AWIM) curriculum, and was offered by the SAE Foundation and supported by Nissan, which is headquartered in Franklin. 

In mid-September, a host of Nissan volunteers came to the three schools to assist students who were in various stages of putting the materials together to create one of the three projects the grant provided. Poplar Grove and Freedom Intermediate sixth-grade student teams designed and constructed a vehicle powered by gravity. The gravity cruiser consisted of a weighted lever connected to an axle by string, which rotated on its fulcrum; as the weight descended it caused the axle attached to the string to rotate, propelling the cruiser forward. At both Poplar Grove and Freedom Middle, eighth-grade students used a PEM Fuel Cell as the primary power source, then teams designed, built, and tested prototype vehicles, all the while analyzing data. Poplar Grove seventh-graders used the AWIM materials to construct electric gear-driven motorized cars, which involved writing proposals, drawing sketches, and working with models to develop a plan to meet a specific set of design requirements.

The movement to STEM-based classes (Science, students work on fuel cell in science classTechnology, Engineering and Math) is growing as the need for professionals in these career fields increases. Franklin serves as the base for many high-tech manufacturing and engineering companies. It is incumbent upon schools in the area to expose its students to the possibilities that a STEM-based career holds. So, in partnership with Nissan and SAE International, a global association of more than 128,000 engineers and related technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries, FSSD middle school teachers took advantage of a grant that provided materials, resources and professional learning using the A World in Motion® (AWIM) curriculum.

students work on fuel cell in science classNissan is interested in strengthening bonds between their industry and their local communities and hopes to reach 2,000 students this school year with these STEM-related resources, materials and training. Thanks to the car manufacturer’s generous sponsorship, the SAE Foundation will provide free, kit-based, hands-on STEM curriculum and professional learning for teachers taking part in the program.