Paintsville Independent Schools Host the MILL

How exciting would it be for an elementary or middle school student to step into the role of a biomedical engineer to explore how to prepare for outbreaks of highly contagious diseases?  Students in the Paintsville Independent School System had the opportunity last week to do just that through the utilization of KVEC’s Mobile Inquiry Learning Lab’s (MILL) project: Outbreak Alert!  Engineering a Pandemic Response.

Teachers participating in the hands-on, inquiry based learning event included first grade teachers Sandy Preston, Tammi Matijasic, and Cathy Wright; third grade teacher Stephanie Runyon, seventh grade teacher Amanda Cox and Gifted and Talented teacher Cindy Tackett.  First grade students, assisted by Gifted and Talented mentors, built and tested support structures. First grade student Kendall Short asked enthusiastically, “Can we do this everyday?”  The third grade class focused on the real world problem of air dropping medicine and supplies to isolated locations and engineered solutions to test. KVEC staff members Dr. Katrina Slone and Kelli Thompson, along with college engineer Taryn Cantrell, connected online with these students to offer feedback on their designs and ideas.

Middle school students were assigned the task of engineering a response to a pandemic outbreak. Students used the MILL resources to experiment with viral attacks on cells using models.  Emma Music, 7th grade student, commented on the project, “We believe the lab that we have been doing in class the past week was very educational and fun. It taught us what a virus is and how it affects the body. We really enjoyed the lab and look forward to another one!”

All students in the KVEC region can have the opportunity to participate in this and other projects by reserving the MILL for their school site.  The hands-on, inquiry-based learning experiences provide active engagement that leads to memorable learning.  A quote from wonderteacher.com/it’s-all-about-student-engagement (Sept. 2013) summarizes students’ needs, “The kids have to be hooked. Involved. Active. Interested. Curious. Doing the work of learning and understanding for themselves.”  The MILL provides this chance for everyone!

Authored by Libby Auxier,  elizabeth.auxier@paintsville.kyschools.us

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