What happens when you have to go in space? It depends

It was high level show-and-tell at five Rockford Public Schools this week as engineers from UTC Aerospace Systems took a miniature space suit on the road. But the engineers weren’t satisfied with ooohs and aaahs. They put students’ problem-solving skills to the test. At Washington Gifted Academy, UTC senior engineer Paul Hastings posed a question to about 100 fifth graders.  “What if you went to the bathroom in a bedpan with no gravity? What happens?” A chorus of “ewwwws” from the students rocked the room. It was mission accomplished for...

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UTAS supports RPS 205 robotics with $5,500 in grants

FIRST robotics teams in the Rockford Public Schools are set to receive $5,500 in grants from UTC Aerospace Systems. The grants are a gift in two ways—in money and in mentorship. Although UTAS provides the financial support, the grants happen because company employees mentor robotics teams. The mentors then submit a grant request to the nonprofit FIRST robotics organization, which then re-grants the money to teams. RPS 205 robotics teams have a lot to celebrate these days. Three FIRST Lego League teams in the district have qualified for the...

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For RPS 205 students, fun begins with STEM

In just a half-hour, four industry panel members at the STEM Summit covered lessons some college students take years to absorb: Don’t procrastinate. Study the difficult material first. Everyone fails sometime. Enjoy learning. Ten students from each high school and middle school in the Rockford Public Schools attended the April 24 summit at Rock Valley College. It was a partnership with the college, RPS 205 and the Pi Gamma Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha. The day began with the panel of professionals: Neysa Alicea, a mechanical engineer at...

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Froberg students don’t just skim–they learn by design

Fourth graders at Froberg Elementary got a letter from a toy company this week — and it had nothing to do with what they might find under the tree. The fictional letter was part of the Skimmer Challenge, a 10-week unit that introduces students to the problem-solving process used by engineers. It involves getting a design challenge (outlined in the letter), and working as a team to meet the challenge. Engineers from UTC Aerospace Systems and Woodward are volunteering at all grade levels at Froberg this year in projects like the Skimmer...

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Froberg second graders test flying machines

It was the day before the championship  for the second grade at Froberg Elementary School. For 10 weeks, they had learned about the principles of flying and the importance of testing and re-testing as they engineered their paper parachutes. One student worried his team’s flyers wouldn’t match up to the competition. He was looking – rather frantically — to his teacher for help. She wasn’t falling for it. “Go figure it out. It’s not my team,” Jill Jagodzinski told him. Mrs. Jag (as the kids call her) was not being mean. Teamwork,...

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