Quality Magazine

SAE Intl and Nissan Promote Scientific Literacy, STEM Learning in Primary Schools

January 19, 2012

DETROIT-- SAE International and Nissan Americas unveiled the newest component of the SAE International A World In Motion (AWIM) program during the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center in Detroit.

SAE International and Nissan introduced the new program during a press conference at the Nissan booth. Students from Detroit Public Schools, Richfield Public Academy and St. Michael School in Livonia participated in the conference, demonstrating the new AWIM activities.

Developed by SAE's A World In Motion staff and made possible through Nissan's $1.5 million donation to the SAE Foundation, the new program is a series of literacy-based science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education activities for primary school students (K-3).

The new activities include:

  • Rolling Things---Students explore the story The Three Little Pigs Sledding Adventure. Based on the scientific concepts presented in the story, students explore toy cars and car performance. Students launch the cars from ramps and investigate the effects that different ramp heights and car weights have on distance traveled. Students make adjustments for performance through variable testing and make decisions based on their data along the way.
  • Pinball Designers---Students explore the concept of optimizing a design by designing and building a pinball game. The story of Malarkey & the Big Trap introduces students to the concept of improving a design through experimentation and data analysis. Students test the launch ramp to explore how launch position affects the behavior of the pinball. Students make their games more challenging by adding targets, walls, and bumpers to the game board.
  • Engineering Inspired by Nature---Students investigate methods in which seeds are dispersed in nature through the story Once Upon a Time in the Woods. The story leads the students to further explore seeds dispersed in nature through various methods. Students use the designs of nature to develop paper helicopters and parachutes and perform variable testing to improve performance.
  • Straw Rockets---Students explore the early life of Dr. Robert Goddard through the age- appropriate biography The Rocket Age Takes Off. Investigating Goddard's early trials and tribulations to create the first liquid-fueled rocket engine, students begin to uncover the work necessary to optimize a design. Students use a design process to build and perform variable testing on straw rockets. Design goals include farthest and highest flight.