Students Set Future in Motion

Summerville, South Carolina

June 23, 2009 – An activity using balloon-powered cars has helped accelerate
the engineering skills
of fifth-graders at Windsor Hill Elementary School.

Over a six-week span,
engineers and educators have joined forces
to help drive student interest in math and science
through a hands-on activity in
design, develop and test small toy cars propelled
by balloons.

The program, titled "A World In Motion," culminated
June 8 with the JetToy
Olympics, during which teams
of students put their cars through
five different competitions to test
the speed and accuracy of
the vehicles they worked so hard to build over the past several weeks.

Sprawled across
the floor of the school’s multi-purpose
room, the children discussed
strategies, tweaked their
cars and watched
the other teams perform.

program, which is sponsored by the Society of
Automotive Engineers
(SAE), teaches students perseverance and the value of hard work, said Anne-Marie Wilcox, Windsor Hill teacher.

"They learn
to work as a team and that it’s acceptable to make mistakes," Wilcox said. "It’s fun to watch
the children grow and succeed."

Since 1990,
more than 4 million students
across the country and Canada have participated in A World In Motion, according
to the SAE website.

Many of the Windsor Hill students were not extremely eager to take part in the program initially, but changed
their minds shortly thereafter,
said Kentrel Clement, Windsor
Hill teacher.

"At first they
not that into
it because they thought it would
be too easy," Clement said. "After testing their (first)
car, however,
realized there are a lot of steps they must follow in order
to be successful."

Although the JetToy Olympics were a
competition and a chance for the
students to showcase
their newly acquired engineering talents,
the teams supported each
other and cheered when another
squad excelled at a particular event.

The activity makes what
the students learn in class
more applicable,
said Gene Cowen, a product
engineer with Bosch
Corporation and program volunteer.

"It helps the students think in ways they’re not
used to about the topics that they’re being
taught," Cowen said. "We hope it excites the kids and
enhances their learning."