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Tewksbury Company Catapults Science to Inspire the Next Generation of Innovators

Thermo Fisher Scientific also presented a $4,500 grant to the Lawrence Boys & Girls Club to support STEM resources

TEWKSBURY – How can a pile of craft sticks, plastic spoons, cups and rubber bands be used to inspire elementary-age children about science?

By turning those supplies into catapults that launch projectiles into the air.

Last week, participants at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence had a visit from eight volunteers from the Thermo Fisher Scientific local site, located in Tewksbury’s Ames Pond area. The volunteers, led by Mike Bates, a staff scientist at the company and leader of the Tewksbury site’s Community Action Council, discussed engineering, iterative design processes (design/test/adjust/test again) as well as potential and kinetic energy principles and then guided the students through hands-on and team-based activities.

About 20 third and fourth graders designed and created their own catapults from the supplies and then participated in long-distance, accuracy and trajectory challenges where participants had to launch various types of balls — foam, pompoms, cotton and ping pong — as far and as high as possible, land them into a bucket and knock over a pyramid of cups.

“It may have seemed a bit chaotic at the time, but this may have been the best, most student-engaging and inspiring STEM event in which I’ve participated,” said Bates. “We want children to know science can be fun, and they certainly seemed to have a great time while figuring out how to adjust their catapults for better trajectories depending upon the particular challenge. Their enthusiasm was electrifying!”

STEM refers to “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.” The children certainly enjoyed the event. One participant, Saeed, thought it was fun because the volunteers talked about energy and the kids were able to launch catapults! Valentina liked that they were able to experiment.

“You got to retry and see what you needed to fix about your catapult or see what could stay the same,” she said. Sailah commented that the volunteers were “very fun and nice.” And more importantly, “What I learned was we are all winners!”

Everyone got a gift at the end of the event. Even those whose projects weren’t as successful as others enjoyed the afternoon. Manuel noted: “My favorite challenge was the cup one. I didn’t knock any down, but I really liked it! The volunteers were really fun. They helped me build my catapult when I needed help.”

Research shows that students begin losing interest in STEM-related subjects around 11-13 years of age, which is why this group wanted to provide STEM education outreach to youngsters. The company realizes that many educational institutions lack the resources to bridge the subject matter taught within a textbook to real-world applications. As an industry leader, they believe it is their responsibility to help make this connection, ensuring continued interest in STEM subjects and careers in future generations.

Learn more about STEM educational programs at Thermo Fisher Scientific.

In addition to the event, the company presented a $4,500 grant to the Lawrence Boys & Girls Club to support STEM resources at the club. Challenge winners received STEM prizes, such as a crystal-growing kit, laser maze and stomp-rockets. All participants received science-themed gift bags, including glow sticks and scented markers.

“FUN was the word of the day!” said Karen Kravchuk, Director of Education at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence. “Our friends from Thermo Fisher Scientific brought another amazing STEM activity to our members, one that taught them new concepts and was super engaging! The room was alive with excitement, learning, teamwork, and lots of happy smiles. We extend our thanks to them for making learning about STEM so fun. I am quite sure more kids became hooked on STEM as a result of participating in the catapult activity. Having such a big group of positive and encouraging volunteers ensured the day was a total success! We can’t wait for their next visit.”

About Thermo Fisher Scientific and Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Together, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Boys & Girls Clubs of America are enhancing and expanding STEM education programming and exposure across the Boys & Girls Clubs movement. Our longtime national partnership advances equity by connecting more youth with high-quality learning experiences that can inspire and propel them into thriving STEM careers. Learn more here.

About Thermo Fisher Scientific
Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. is the world leader in serving science, with annual revenue exceeding $30 billion. Our Mission is to enable our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer. Whether our customers are accelerating life sciences research, solving complex analytical challenges, improving patient diagnostics and therapies or increasing productivity in their laboratories, we are here to support them. Our global team of more than 80,000 colleagues delivers an unrivaled combination of innovative technologies, purchasing convenience and pharmaceutical services through our industry-leading brands, including Thermo Scientific, Applied Biosystems, Invitrogen, Fisher Scientific, Unity Lab Services and Patheon. For more information, please visit the company’s website.

These posts are from the great organizations around Tewksbury that provide updates to the Carnation.

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