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Summer Science on Wheels

Summer STEM fun in Northern New Mexico.
August 29, 2019

Science on Wheels van.


  • Stacy Baker
  • (505) 664-0244
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Even better than recess!

Teachers and students throughout Northern New Mexico have enjoyed the Bradbury’s Science on Wheels program for decades. The program’s Star Lab and It’s not Magic, its Science demonstrations were always a hit with students and teachers alike. However, our new community educator, Mel Strong, thought it was time to change things up a bit, so this year he rolled out a redesigned traveling education program: Summer Science on Wheels. 

Summer Science on Wheels differs from our previous version in a couple of significant ways. One difference is that while Science on Wheels programming always focused on STEM-related topics, the new program incorporates Next Generation Science Standards into each of the hands-on learning activities students engage in. So, while students think they’re just having fun designing solar circuits or exploring the world of clouds, they’re also absorbing scientific standards that will help them understand science and engineering practices and apply them to real-world challenges throughout their lives. 

The other big difference is the timing. As the name suggests, Summer Science on Wheels happens during the summer break, when many young students are in various camps or summer programs rather than during the school year. To avoid taking teaching time away from the classroom and adding pressure to already tight fall schedules, the new program takes advantage of summer programs which take place at school locations and offer out-of-school-time  learning and developmental experiences. By partnering with these education-based summer programs, the Bradbury Science Museum can meet more students in the informal science education arena, where the pressure to perform is less intense and fun is the name of the game. 

This summer’s pilot program took Mel, and Selena Valencia of the Lab’s Community Partnerships Office, to six school locations within the Espanola school district: Chimayo, James Rodriguez, Tony Quintana, Eutimio Salazar, Hernandez, and San Juan elementary schools. Over June and July, 300 students enjoyed the custom-built, hands-on activities, which included creating a cloud in a jar, experimenting with sounds and physical vibrations, and making “pocket” solar systems. 

For many of these students, Summer Science on Wheels was the only science-based programming of the summer, and they weren’t shy about sharing how much they enjoyed it. In fact, one group of students remarked that the activities were “even better than recess!” 

The students’ delightful anticipation watching Mel set up each day’s activity was a reminder that the Bradbury’s support of STEM education outreach to our Northern New Mexico community is not vague or generalized. It is not a box to check, and it is not colorless routine of compulsory curricula. The Bradbury’s heartfelt educational outreach is targeted, tangible, and designed to inspire. And this summer, it was visible in the smiles of hundreds of children. 

For more information, please see the Bradbury’s Summer Science on Wheels webpage.