By Tara Cavanaugh
When Tahani Othman’s fifth grade class at Lakewood showed off their balloon-powered cars last week, they could not have been more proud.
Each car was a simple chassis with four wheels and was connected to a balloon. Designing them took weeks of testing and research.
Luckily the students had help from two Toyota engineers, who participated in the company’s World of Motion program.
World of Motion is a program created by the Society of Automotive Engineers, and Toyota (and other auto companies) take part. Employees volunteer to spend 1-2 hours a week for 6-8 weeks teaching students SAE science and technology curriculum. This year five AAPS elementary schools –– Thurston, Logan, Burns Park, Pittsfield and Lakewood –– benefitted from the free program.
“This exposes them to more of the engineering and science methods they will start to get into in middle school and later on,” said Toyota engineer Casey Ray.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to get out of the office and especially to work with kids,” said Toyota engineer Josh Domeyer, who volunteered with this program last year too. “Given that Toyota supports this, I like to do this when I have time.”
Teacher Tahani Othman used the program for the first time this year and she was impressed with the volunteers, who are trained, and the curriculum, which volunteers improve upon every year. Each lesson began with a lecture, and kids took notes on the vocabulary and formulas. Then they had fun testing their knowledge on their developing prototypes.
“I though this would make for a much more interesting experience for my students,” Othman said happily. “I want to commend Toyota on this program.”