Tacoma Power came out in full force for First Creek's exhibition day!

Last time we checked in with 6th graders at TransformEd partner school First Creek Middle School, they had just launched into their project cycle with the community-centered question How can we harness energy to help our community?

Earlier this month, First Creek students presented their final answers to their peers and to employees from Tacoma Power.

Leading up to their final exhibitions students first took part in Industry Day where they learned more about thermal energy and the scientific method to complete the Cold Cup Challenge.

The Cold Cup Challenge 🧊🥤🥤🧊

The Industry Day Cold Cup Challenge was to take a regular Solo cup and standard crafting materials such as aluminum foil and felt to design a cup that would keep water cold longer than an unmodified Solo cup.  

How would students know that their design was a success? The scientific method! 

Before Industry Day, students predicted what features of their cold cups would make them effective, then they tested the cups and collected data to prove how effective they were. To test their hypotheses, scholars poured cold water in their cup and a regular cup, then measured the change in temperature over time and compared the two results.

On Industry Day they presented the whole process to their classmates and visitors from Tacoma Power and TAF. This included reflecting on why their cup worked or did not work. 

One group, that heavily used foil in the design of their cup reflected on why their cold cup caused water to heat faster. Their conclusion was that the foil held in heat from light hitting the cup which made it effective at insultation instead of cooling.

First Creek students then used what they learned about thermal energy and building container prototypes to make their final projects.

The Final Exhibition🎬🎬🎬

The objective was to build an original thermal energy container to help a community. Seven representatives from Tacoma Power visited to provide authentic feedback on student designs.

Using materials similar to the cold cup challenge, students created prototypes such a doghouse to keep pets warm, a lunchbox to help unhoused neighbors keep food for longer periods of time, and warm comfortable clothing for unhoused neighbors.

Using what they learned from Industry Day, scholars also tested the efficacy of their prototypes. Many groups compared the temperature of water in a cup over time sitting out versus sitting inside of their prototype. 

Each presentation ended with time for students and Tacoma Power employees to ask questions about each group’s method and design.

From launch to Industry Day to Final Exhibition, First Creek students learned and improved so much.

With each step in the process, they grew more confident presenting in front of their peers. With each prototype trial and error or success, they learned more about thermal energy and incorporated changes based on their findings. And, with each visit from Tacoma Power, the authentic connection between classroom and community got stronger.

We at TAF are excited to see how these students and our new partnership with First Creek Middle School will continue to grow using the STEMbyTAF model!