HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS TO BUILD WATER TOWER AT MILWAUKEE ZOO
Guest blog by Ruth Shirk
High school students in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, county school districts are participating in a unique STEAM project, and it will be a real blessing to the local zoo. Students in the local school districts are competing against each other to see who can design the best water tower for the zoo's 15-inch-gauge railroad that regularly carries visitors around the zoo.
Each group of students first worked together to design a water tower for the aging one at the zoo. Then, they gave presentations on their ideas before a group of judges from the Milwaukee School of Engineering CREATE Institute. The students were given suggestions from the judges. Now, they have until April to perfect their ideas. Then, the groups will present their ideas to judges from the University of Wisconsin who will choose the best one.
Then, students can choose to participate in a summer boot camp allowing them to construct the winning idea. Funding for the program is provided by a Learn Deep who helps students learn to use technology for a brighter future and Coalition for Sustainable Rail who hopes eventually to power the Milwaukee Zoo's railroad by renewable power.
This will not be the only project that the students will be working on. Next year, the students will be working on designing and constructing a coal tower. If you would like to lead students in completing a similar activity, then look around your community for problems that need solved using STEAM skills. Then, design your own contest to encourage student learning. You may also want to get corporate sponsorships to help underwrite the costs so that students can see their ideas through to fruition. If you teach in a large district like Washington D.C., then you may even want to set up the competition so that students work against each other in the beginning before working together to see the project completed.