Student Phuong Tran Helps Unity A+ Arts Elementary School Students During An After School STEM Program

Sioux City, Iowa - Hunt A+ Arts Elementary School fifth grader Nhi Tran likes to follow directions, while her lab partner Desirae Brown is more of a hands-on learner. 

Both girls were discovering how to create electric circuits in "The Finding Project," a two-week pilot program conceived by Nhi's sister Phuong Tran and Derek Folchert, both juniors at North High School and the Career Academy.

"Phuong and I created 'The Finding Project' as a way for younger students to engage in STEM," Derek said of a curriculum that included science, technology, engineering and mathematics. "Getting them involved in STEM will prepare them for more advance classes they'll be able to take in middle school and high school."

Indeed, Phuong said she had been passionate about STEM from a very young age and she wanted to help younger students to find a similar passion.

"I think it will open a lot of doors for kids," she said.

So far, "The Finding Project" students have created molecules by mixing vinegar and baking soda as well as learned about technology through a experiment utilizing telescopes.

On Oct. 12, eleven Hunt A+ Arts students got a lesson in engineering by building circuits.

A circuit is simply a path created so electricity can flow. It starts at a power source -- like a battery -- and flows through a circuit board, where it can cause a light bulb to illuminate or a soundbox to make noise. 

In theory, that was the plan. In reality, the team of Desirae and Nhi got off to a rocky start.

"We did a similar experiment in class last year," Desirae said, attaching a series of circuits through a path. "Don't you remember that?"

"I do, but we still need to follow these instructions," Nhi said, pointing to the book with detailed directions.

"No, I think I got it," Desirae said, flipping on a switch which failed to light the bulb or turn on the music. "OK, maybe not."

Phuong couldn't help but smile at Nhi and Desirae's desire to learn through experimentation.  

"I know Nhi enjoys STEM," Phuong said of her younger sister. "I quiz her on science terms before she goes to bed every night."

Read more about The Finding Project in the Sioux City Journal.