Fifth Grade Baltimore City Students Showcase Capstone STEM Projects


Arlington Elementary School students, Queen Bemah, Tyreek Brown, Michael Green, Amar Johnson and Maikala Manns identified poor lighting as a problem in the community. After five months of research and conducting a community walk-through, they presented their capstone STEM projects at the bi-annual STEM Showcase at Polytechnical Western Institute High School in Baltimore City on May 15, 2018 where more than 400 parents, teachers and supporters attended the event.

In coordination with their STEM facilitator and mentors from Johns Hopkins University, the students participated in a student driven project (SDP), designed to help them identify issues in the neighborhood and to seek out solutions to solve the problems.

The 5th graders participated in an after school STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program at Arlington Elementary School in Baltimore City, which met Monday through Friday for an hour. After months of learning about the engineering design process, the students presented their findings and projects.

The aspiring engineers conducted a community walk-through to identify a problem they could find a solution to. Within a few blocks of the school, they saw a light post that was lying on the ground. It measured 322 inches. They were inspired to focus on community and personal lighting for safety.

During the STEM showcase, students presented their inventions, including a non-falling light fixture, which was equipped with a collapsible pole, reflective tape and miniature cameras. With a focus on personal lighting, Michael Green enhanced a pair of sneakers with LED lights, fluorescent shoestrings and miniature cameras attached to the back of each shoe. Amar Johnson designed a hooded sweatshirt equipped with reflective tape and a miniature camera.

Many of the students, including those at Arlington Elementary attended previous STEM events and look forward to the next one. With the advancements of overlapping disciplines, STEM has opened up exciting career fields for elementary school students that were not around 15-20 years ago.

“We recognize the amount of time and support that’s required to spotlight the STEM projects of our SABES students, and we applaud their achievements,” said Alisha N. Sparks, Elementary School SABES Program Manager at Johns Hopkin University Whiting School of Engineering.

STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools (SABES), is a partnership between Baltimore City Public Schools and Johns Hopkins University with the goal of bridging the gap and improving educational outcomes for targeted city schools— Arlington Elementary/Middle School; Barclay Elementary /Middle School; Dallas F. Nicholas Sr. Elementary School; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary/School; Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School (#215); Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School (#237); John Ruhrah Elementary/Middle School; Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle School; and Pimlico Elementary/Middle School.

The National Science Foundation awarded a $7.4 million grant to Johns Hopkins University School of Engineering and Education in 2012. The mission of the program focused on a three-prong approach for success: training STEM facilitators and teachers in best practices; to provide students an engaging and interactive curriculum; and to enhance learning in the classroom with after-school programming that shows students how science can impact their lives.

Research suggests that students who participate in STEM programs display more confidence, greater analytical thinking and an increased interest in a STEM career.

“The SABES STEM Showcase is a visual reminder to our students that they can do anything they put their minds to,” said Sparks.