SCIENCE!

Kevin Holamon | Brownwood Bulletin kevin.holamon@brownwoodbulletin.com
Early Elementary student Tex Ejere, as he helps demonstrate Newton's Third Law of Motion, in conjunction with a visit by the TAME Trailblazer II science trailer to the campus, Monday.

The 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students of Early Elementary had the opportunity to experience science in action, Monday, with a visit by one of two TAME Trailblazer Program's Mobile Science and Engineering Exhibit Trailers.

3M Company is one of the three major sponsors of the program and paid the expenses for the visit to Early, and another to the Brownwood ISD, scheduled for Tuesday.

The 40-foot, fully enclosed trailer contains a variety of science demonstrations, designed to pique the interest of young students and encourage them to consider careers in STEM; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The two trailers are based at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University of Texas - Austin.

The program was begun in 1999, but the Trailblazer II, used in this exhibit, is less than two years old. according to V.J. Willis, who pulls and mans the trailer, it cost $234,000 to construct and equip.

Willis, a former classroom teacher, has been with the program for two years.

"It is quite rewarding," he said, "I quit counting the students I've seen at 30,000."

Willis said he averages visiting 15 to 20 campuses each month.

As groups of about 20 students arrive to the parking lot, Willis welcomes them with a few safety instructions and gives a brief demonstration on the spot. Monday, he recruited the help of fifth grader, Tex Ejere. Willis had the student stand on what amounts to a heavy-duty, steel and ball bearing lazy Susan. He then started a bicycle wheel spinning and handed it off to Ejere, effectively turning him into a human gyroscope. Willis then instructed Ejere to tilt the wheel to the left, which caused him to spin to the left, on the plate. As he tilted the wheel to the right, he spun to the right. Willis explained to the students that they were witnessing the principle of Newton's Third Law of Motion - for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

As he stepped off of the plate, Ejere said, "That was creepy."

Willis travels alone and enlists the help of volunteers to man the inside exhibits. While at the Early and Brownwood campuses, he enlisted the help of 3M employees and Early teachers. The students received hands-on experience with demonstrations on space, energy, weather, biotechnology, and aerodynamics, and they were all smiles as they exited the trailer.