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Industrial Group brings roaming science museum to PAISD

Hands-on Motivation

“Hopefully it motivates them to go back in the classroom and just be curious. It’ll give them that spark to ask questions and wonder about how the world works around them.” — Annie Carter, TAME Golden Triangle Chapter chair

TAME Trailblazer provides hands-on exhibits for 2,000 students

Playing hooky has never been so electrifying.

Tavian Gipson’s first shot at the electric ball was tentative — timid, even — but he said that initial “jolt” got him hooked.

“My body is a conductor,” Gipson said, smiling at his classmates.

Gipson, and hundreds of other Abraham Lincoln Middle School students, stepped away from science class Friday morning for a hands-on field trip — and they didn’t even have to leave campus.

Kamaren Hornes takes a break from his eighth grade science class by trying his hand at robotic surgery in the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering Trailblazer at Abraham Lincoln Middle School in Port Arthur Friday morning.

Kamaren Hornes takes a break from his eighth grade science class by trying his hand at robotic surgery in the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering Trailblazer at Abraham Lincoln Middle School in Port Arthur Friday morning.

The Lincoln students joined ranks with nearly 2,000 other Port Arthur Independent School District students who got to roam through the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering Trailblazer — a 40-foot “science museum on wheels” containing hands-on exhibits to teach students about science, technology, engineering and math — over the last two weeks.

“We’re big on introducing our kids to STEM fields — how they can apply these classroom concepts to their everyday lives,” Kenneth Lofton Sr., PAISD board secretary and Motiva process operator, said Friday morning. “I think this is what our community needs in Port Arthur.”

Motiva sponsored the TAME Trailblazer’s last day in Port Arthur ISD, working in partnership with other Port Arthur refineries and petrochemical companies through the Port Arthur Industrial Group.

John Mamrrique, Motiva project engineer, right, teaches eighth grade science students about different types of energy in the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering Trailblazer at Abraham Lincoln Middle School in Port Arthur Friday morning.

John Mamrrique, Motiva project engineer, right, teaches eighth grade science students about different types of energy in the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering Trailblazer at Abraham Lincoln Middle School in Port Arthur Friday morning.

“The people who work at Motiva want our kids to succeed. We want to be here to show our students these STEM concepts aren’t just for textbooks,” Lofton said. “They’re everywhere in the real world and if we’re being honest, they can be pretty cool.”

Kamaren Hornes and Litzy Galvan joined Gipson, all eighth graders in Jesseca Brooks’ science class, in exploring the Trailblazer’s exhibits in energy, electricity, weather, space and biotechnology.

“My favorite was the electrical balls and the weather station,” Galvan said.

“I liked all of them, but the energy station was pretty cool,” Hornes added. “We talked about how energy can convert from mechanical to electrical and then we got to mess with changing from one to the other.”

Candace Vaughn, Motiva process engineer, right, instructs an eighth grade science student at the weather station inside the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering Trailblazer at Abraham Lincoln Middle School in Port Arthur Friday morning.

Candace Vaughn, Motiva process engineer, right, instructs an eighth grade science student at the weather station inside the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering Trailblazer at Abraham Lincoln Middle School in Port Arthur Friday morning.

Joe Gilbreath, a Motiva analyzer technician working at the popular electricity station, said the most important thing for all the volunteers Friday was to show the students STEM subjects don’t have to end in the classroom.

“This gives us a chance to show kids the real-world aspect of all these lessons they’re learning in class,” Gilbreath said. “Of course, they’ve talked about energy and electricity in the classroom before. But this gives them something real and concrete to focus on and remember instead of a lecture or something they’ve read.

“We can show them how these concepts work in the real world and how they can be applied to jobs later on in life. Yes, we’re all from Motiva today, but we’re not just talking about refinery work. You can use these skills in other fields, and it’s important to introduce the kids to these options early. If they don’t know it’s out there, how can they get interested in it? You’ve got to give them options.”

Kim Williams, Motiva analyzer technician, left, directs eighth grade students at robotic surgery in the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering Trailblazer at Abraham Lincoln Middle School in Port Arthur Friday morning.

Kim Williams, Motiva analyzer technician, left, directs eighth grade students at robotic surgery in the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering Trailblazer at Abraham Lincoln Middle School in Port Arthur Friday morning.

Hornes came out the Trailblazer exhibit smiling and joking with Gipson.

“I love science,” Hornes said, waiting for the rest of his classmates. “I’m interested in a lot because you can use it for everything — business, carpentry, engineering, architecture.”

“That’s what we want to hear,” Annie Carter, TAME Golden Triangle Chapter chair, said. “Hopefully it motivates them to go back in the classroom and just be curious. It’ll give them that spark to ask questions and wonder about how the world works around them.”

Eighth grade science students were invited to try robotic surgery on a plastic patient in the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering Trailblazer at Abraham Lincoln Middle School in Port Arthur Friday morning.

Eighth grade science students were invited to try robotic surgery on a plastic patient in the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering Trailblazer at Abraham Lincoln Middle School in Port Arthur Friday morning.

For more information about the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering or the TAME Trailblazer, visit www.tame.org.

Twitter: @crhenderson90