STEM Scholars: Students Present at Mayo Neuroscience Conference
JCDS students presented their makerspace projects at the Convergence Neuroscience Conference, which was sponsored by Mayo Clinic. The ten 4th grade students discussed and demonstrated the prototypes they had designed and built in the school’s makerspace to help astronauts on long space voyages to Mars cope with homesickness.
The students, who were given “STEM Scholar” certificates by Mayo, approached the challenge of this project with confidence. One of the prototypes presented by the students was a robotic dog for companionship. The dog moved its legs and barked when prompted. Another team developed a Pong-like video game that inserts pictures of family members to keep the astronauts company. A third design was a special sleeping bag with pictures of loved ones that is innovatively held up by the low gravity during space travel.
“It was great to see the students creatively engaged through this project. Their imaginations were on fire and then they had to use 21st-century skills, such as teamwork and perseverance, to develop working models and bring their creativity to life. The students were excited to present, even on a Saturday, because they were so excited about their projects,” Ian Nyquist, Director of Marketing and Communications, said about the presentations.
“We were honored to be invited to present at the Mayo neuroscience conference with several of our 4th graders. Through this unique experience, our students were able to showcase their innovative projects, as well as continue to practice their public speaking skills. We are incredibly proud of our students who stood on stage with confidence, and clearly explained their building process and the setbacks they encountered,” Cristina Knodel said. “Their ability to work together as a team and present to a room of adults was inspiring!”
The students presented their creative ideas with passion and confidence, and are becoming thoughtful and effective communicators. They demonstrated to the audience how they are being fully trained for the universities and workplaces of the future.
“Presenting their ideas to the neurosurgeons and neuroscientists at the Mayo conference helps build a growth mindset in our students and shows them that their ideas are remarkable enough to make a difference in the world,” Shannon Johnson, Science and Tech Integration Specialist, said. “It tells the students that they are the innovators of the future.”