The third-grade students at Somers Intermediate School ventured on a virtual field trip to Challenge Island recently. The children built working windmills from household items to understand first-hand how wind’s kinetic energy can be harnessed by a windmill or wind turbine, and then transferred to mechanical power or electricity.
“We used paper towel and toilet paper rolls, popsicle sticks, paper cups and yarn,” says student Laurel Knapp.
Challenge Island is a S.T.E.A.M. enrichment program run by Somers parent Jill Schantz. The projects are collaborative learning experiences that address the needs of both the creative, playful child of today and the globally successful adult of the future. Schantz facilitated the windmill projected over ZOOM, and while social distancing dictated that the students work individually instead of in groups, they still managed to work together.
“I was so proud of each third-grader,” says Schantz. “Even though they were tackling their windmill challenges alone, it didn’t stop them from collaborating, communicating, helping their classmates and celebrating each other’s accomplishments.”
“Mine kept breaking because the tape wasn’t that strong,” says Owen Gannon. “I kept doing it and eventually it worked. I learned to never give up.”
Schantz partnered with the Parent Teacher Association to bring Challenge Island to Somers Intermediate School this year. She also works with Putnam Westchester BOCES and other schools throughout the area. Over the next two months, the fourth and fifth grades at the intermediate school will also go on virtual Challenge Island field trips, undertaking projects related to ecosystems and machines.