Mobile classroom gets students hands-on with science

Merry Acres students participated in experiments through the Mobile Discovery Center / Sarah Bleau

Teachers say when it comes to keeping students interested in school on a low budget they have to get creative.

Merry Acres Science Teacher Erin Roberts took the initiative to find an application for The National Science Center's Mobile Discovery Center, a free mobile classroom teaching science to students in unique ways.

"I was looking for different types of field trips but due to different funding situations, and we're all trying to pinch a penny. I did find a mobile lab unit and it is free," says Roberts.

Many teachers nationwide are trying to be creative with planning alternatives to field trips; it's why the Mobile Discovery Center has a three year waiting list.

For Merry Acres Middle School students, on Monday they weren't waiting long to get a chance to see what other students were talking about and a chance to see science in action.

"It's so cool to be looking at it and some of us actually got to go up there and be involved in the experiment," says sixth grader Dylan Holland.

Jasmine Jones, a sixth grader who was a part of one of the demonstrations, says, "It was fun something other than just in the classroom doing work, very interesting, hands on."

Roberts says that was her goal: To get the students out of the classroom routine.

"A lot of times we get stagnant and sometimes as teachers they see us every day and sometimes they want to see something a little bit different which I don't blame them," she says.

It's also a goal for instructors with The National Science Center's Mobile Discovery Center.

"We can actually bring this too them and they can actually put their hands on it and see actual scientific demonstrations done right there in front of them and they can actually participate in it," says Sgt. 1st Class Steve Rosen with the U.S. Army.

Roberts says hands-on learning and unique lessons keep students interested and engaged in STEM programs (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

"This brings something different to them so they can enjoy it and get excited about science in particular because so many careers focus around a science background. We want to keep them motivated and keep them excelling and keep them in school for the long run," she says.