'Is today science day?'
That is the question third graders at the Tracy School in Lynn, MA are continually asking their teacher, Jeanette McGarry.
"The students really enjoy the days when a GE Volunteer comes for a KnowAtom session to demonstrate a science or math project. They also like hearing about what type of work the volunteer does at the nearby GE plant and what type of education is needed for that job," commented Miss McGarry. "I think that the kids then make connections to an actual job or career path. It encourages them to do their best --- especially in science and mathematics."
KnowAtom is an academic program that brings science, engineering and technology to life for elementary school children. It is an organized curriculum with material kits and specific instructions for hands-on sessions able to be taught by both teachers and volunteers.
GE-Lynn's Turbofan/Turbojet (TFT) department launched this volunteer initiative in 2007 at the request of Miss McGarry. The KnowAtom program has since spread to other elementary schools in Lynn and significant improvement in state test results in science and math have been demonstrated. Now more than 50 GE Volunteers are involved in this expanding program and more Lynn elementary schools will be able to benefit from this pool of volunteers for the program.
During a recent KnowAtom lesson at the Tracy School Jim Kaplan, GE's Director of F/404F/414 Programs, demonstrated the power of wind and the difference between potential and kinetic energy as third graders made windmills from paper towel tubes, white sheets of paper and rubber bands.
"There is great value in GE providing these students with hands-on science experience in a way that excites and engages the students. This is a program that the Lynn school system could not afford without GE's financial help and volunteers," said Jim.
"Today we built windmills and the students were truly excited when it came their turn to put the windmills in front of the fan and see them work. It exposes the students to how much fun science can be. We hope some of them go forward with technical education and careers because of what they have experienced with KnowAtom."
Miss McGarry added, "We are grateful to GE for both the funds and the volunteers. With tools and manpower like this, we help to raise the bar of learning and expectations for our students."