A ‘whole lot of shaking going on’ at REAMS

Mike Thomas (back, center) with Jeanne VanDrasek’s third grade class and a completed structure designed to withstand an earthquake

Mike Thomas (back, center) with Jeanne VanDrasek’s third grade class and a completed structure designed to withstand an earthquake

Earthquakes were the topic of conversation at Rockford Elementary Arts Magnet School (REAMS) in May when third grade students worked with Mike Thomas, an engineer as well as a REAMS parent, to learn more about how engineers work together on projects locally and around the world to make our lives safer.

Students were first introduced to plate tectonics as part of their classroom study. With Thomas as resident engineer, students learned more about earthquakes, and what engineers do, through hands-on activities. The classroom buzzed with excitement as students worked in teams to build structures and put their buildings “to the test” with an earthquake simulator provided by Thomas and MTS Systems Corporation. Third grade student, Henry Jurmu said, “I thought that the teamwork was nice because all of our ideas together helped us make a stronger structure”.

 

Third grade students at REAMS working together to create a stable structure.

Third grade students at REAMS working together to create a stable structure.

Thomas is a manufacturing engineer at MTS Systems Corporation in Eden Prairie where they build a wide variety of test and simulation equipment for nearly every type of product and industry all around the world.  “We supply equipment to companies, universities and government agencies associated with automotive, aerospace, geological, energy, biomedical and many other fields.  That equipment is made to test or simulate the use of raw materials, components, assemblies, or structures for all types of products,” said Thomas.

REAMS third grade students thoroughly enjoyed the day with Thomas, who emphasized teamwork and using positive language with team members as a lifelong skill, and something he needs to do every day in his job. It’s also something students start learning at REAMS at a very young age and will continue to develop over the years. Third grade student Lauren Schuman said of the exercise, “Our group really had to work through struggles to create teamwork. We built a strong structure because we listened to each other’s ideas.”

For more information on programs at REAMS, please contact 763-477-5837.

 

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