How does STEM help students solve real-world problems?


The students at Longmont Estates Elementary recently had the opportunity to learn about the dangers of trash getting into the ocean and harming sea creatures.

Two students from Longmont Estates created an Innovation Fair project focused on protecting sea turtles. Their question was, “How might we keep trash out of the oceans?” Through the design process, they created biodegradable straws.  They were inspired to focus on this because through their research, they learned that 500 million straws are used and discarded every day in the United States. These straws end up in landfills, our waterways, and oceans, often creating issues for sea creatures.  They set out on a mission to create compostable straws as one way to combat the issue.

Once St. Vrain Valley School District’s science coordinator, Mike O’Toole, saw their project, he knew he had to share it with Dr. Mikki McComb-Kobza, Executive Director of the OceanFirst institute. She immediately came over and met with the students about their project. That led to Mrs. Shaffer, Longmont Estates’ STEM coordinator, inviting Dr. Mikki McComb-Kobza to come back and present information about protecting sea turtles to all fourth and fifth grade students.

Students participated in a program called “The Story of the Sea Turtle” The students worked in small groups to measure sea turtles and learned about the turtle excluder device, which allows sea turtles to escape from fishing nets. Students learned that most sea turtles don’t make it to adulthood because of human impact and natural predators. They learned how they can reduce their trash and help to protect the Earth’s creatures.


Tagged in STEM