Students get a leg up in S.T.E.M.

Oklahoman Modified: February 6, 2013 at 4:51 pm •  Published: February 6, 2013
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YUKON -- Students at Independence Elementary School in Yukon are getting a leg up on the competition to become leaders in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, (S.T.E.M.), by holding their Second Annual Prosthetic Leg Challenge.

 The students were tasked with constructing a prosthetic leg out of homemade materials by their S.T.E.M. instructor, Chris Simon.

 “This is the second year that my fifth-grade students have built prosthetic legs in my class. Last year’s group were the pioneers of this project and did an amazing job. This year’s students, though, have really raised the bar and taken this project to a whole new level”, said Simon.

 S.T.E.M. classes are in their second year at Independence Elementary. Yukon Public Schools instituted the program by making it available to all of the students at the district's two fourth- and fifth-grade centers, Independence Elementary and it’s sister school, Lakeview Elementary.

 “The reason I love this project so much is because it not only touches the academic side of what makes S.T.E.M. education so great, but it also brings home the human side as well. It puts into sharp focus the needs of those with disabilities and how engineers can play a very important role in people’s lives. It is really a great lesson in sensitivity”, Simon said.

 IES Principal Cecil Bowles agrees.

“The prosthetic leg project is an amazing opportunity to expose our students to an area of scientific design that a regular fifth-grade science or math class couldn't," he said. "In addition, the empathetic connection to the person who has a prosthesis is an area where our students can grow personally while developing a more realistic view of society and the unique situations they may encounter.”

Students were visited by a team from the prosthetic lab at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center, led by Dallas Curtis, Prosthetic Lab Chief. Curtis told the students what he sees everyday in his job and also gave them some tips on how to be successful with their own creations.