Mandarin Oaks “Leads the Way” in STEM studies with boost from Rep. Fischer

Rithika, a third-grader at Mandarin Oaks Elementary School, works with classmates to create a crane system to transport a sick tiger. The project is part of the Project Lead the Way "Stability and Force" unit.

Feb. 5, 2019 - How do you safely transport an injured tiger to receive medical care?

This was a particularly engaging problem for Mandarin Oaks Elementary School third-graders Rithika and Eric.

After talking it over, the pair decided they had to construct a “pulley-crane” with wheels to extract the tiger from its cave.

“We’re feeling really good,” Rithika said about their solution as they attached the crane to the wheel. “We’re really proud and impressed with what we have done so far.”

Rithika and Eric are among the next-generation engineers at Mandarin Oaks Elementary who will soon have access to a new and innovative STEM program at the school.

Through Project Lead The Way (PLTW) students will systematically study and complete hands-on, interactive projects in STEM areas like robotics, animation, genetics, the human body and the changing earth.

The program will make its debut at the school thanks in part to the generous support of community partners like State Rep. Jason Fischer who represents the Mandarin district.

According to Fischer, Mandarin Oaks will be the only elementary school in Northeast Florida to offer PLTW when it’s implemented in the 2019-2020 school year.

The announcement was made Thursday, Jan. 31 during a special ceremony in which Fischer presented the school $8,250.08 to go toward PLTW.

An electrical engineer by trade, Fischer said it’s important to introduce STEM concepts to students early.

“If we have high quality programs in science, technology, engineering and math in the school where they spend most of their day, they’ll be more familiar it; they’ll understand the technology,” Fischer said. “We’re going to live in a much more technologically advanced world. They need to be able to interact in that world.”

That’s the case with Rithika and Eric. While thankfully, the tiger was not real, what was very real were the critical thinking skills, creativity and foundation in Newton’s Law of Physics they acquired as they completed the PLTW lesson in “Stability and Force.”

Rithika, who wants to be an astronaut and the first Indian on the moon, said this was a head start for robotics. Eric agreed.

“I’m learning how to build models,” he said. “In the future this can help me. I want to be an inventor and an engineer.”

View the video below to hear more from Rep. Fischer, as well as Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene and Principal Leigh Butterfield, about how this initiative was started.

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