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What a ride!

Over 1200 students from 19 different elementary schools and one after-school program attended Homewood Science Center’s engineering design field trip, "Roller Coasters: An Inventor's Journey," during the 2018-2019 academic year. As we move into summer, we want to thank everyone who helps make our field trip program such a valuable educational experience for area students.

On the field trip, students are introduced to engineering concepts through the work of Homewood native John Miller (1872-1941), who’s known as “the father of the modern-day roller coaster” because his patented inventions made roller coasters faster and safer. Students observe a roller coaster design in action by taking a 3D roller coaster ride in our Michael Wexler Theater, then practice each step of the engineering design process by designing and building model roller coasters from kits of recycled materials.

The field trip curriculum, designed by Patty Messersmith, senior educator at the Museum of Science and Industry, is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. These education standards emphasize teaching the process engineers use to design and build, to help students understand how to solve engineering problems and make great things.

During the field trip, students learn science vocabulary and concepts, make observations, brainstorm ideas, sketch out prototype designs, work with design constraints, identify failure points, and modify their designs to make improvements. The learning objective of the field trip is to build students’ interest, skill, and determination towards engineering design, an important 21st-century skill.

Thanks to generous donations from Mi-Jack Products, Flossmoor Service League, South Suburban Chicago Chapter of the Links Inc., and A Piece of the Pie, hundreds of students from low-income school districts participated in Homewood Science Center’s field trip program this past school year. ArcelorMittal has pledged to fund field trips for additional underserved students this fall. We’re very grateful to these sponsors and to the many community members who donate materials for use in field trips.

Latonya Walker, 2nd grade teacher in Country Club Hills School District 160, called the field trip the best her class has taken in decades and said it provides students with hands-on experience that can’t be duplicated in the classroom.

The field trip “serves a valuable role to schools, students, and educators in Homewood and the South Suburban region,” said researchers from Columbia College Chicago’s Convergence Design Lab, who visited Homewood Science Center to observe a field trip. “Teachers recognize and appreciate the quality of the learning experience and the excitement it brings to students,” they said.

We’re excited to bring this program to area schoolkids. Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who helps make it happen.

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