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Heritage Elementary STEM students fascinated with Corps Water Works

Nashville District Public Affairs
Published May 8, 2013
Bob Sneed, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Water Management Section gives students from the Heritage Elementary School a presentation on how water works on the Cumberland River May 2, 2013. Sneed designed his presentation to follow an animated drop of water from rainfall from the school as it ventures into the river, passing through dams, locks and eventually flowing down the Cumberland River into the Ohio River and then the Mississippi River.

Bob Sneed, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Water Management Section gives students from the Heritage Elementary School a presentation on how water works on the Cumberland River May 2, 2013. Sneed designed his presentation to follow an animated drop of water from rainfall from the school as it ventures into the river, passing through dams, locks and eventually flowing down the Cumberland River into the Ohio River and then the Mississippi River.

WHITEHOUSE, Tenn. (May 8, 2013) – Students and teachers from the Heritage Elementary School recently had a chance to learn about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ water works.

They were treated with a presentation explaining the Cumberland Water System during a briefing at the school May 2 and then took a tour at the Old Hickory Lock and Dam in Hendersonville, Tenn., May 8.

Bob Sneed, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Water Management Section designed his presentation to follow an animated drop of water from rainfall from the school as it ventures into the river, passing through dams, locks and eventually flowing down the Cumberland River into the Ohio River and then the Mississippi River. 

On May 2, two groups with 70 six graders each filed into the small gymnasium and listened as Sneed educated them about the importance of water for commercial purposes, drinking, and business along the river.  He then talked about how the water follows its trail from the river’s headwaters in Harlan in far eastern Kentucky, through Tennessee, and back into far western Kentucky into the Ohio River.

“This is a great opportunity for the students to get a basic idea of the process of the many uses of water in our area, how the Corps uses waters to for ecological sustainability and the importance it has to our commerce,” said Sneed.

The Heritage Elementary School has a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education program set up for grades three through six and 6th grade science and math teacher Beth Goodcourage said she especially enjoyed how Corps jobs and projects supported STEM and its relationship comparison to what the students study.

“The presentation was excellent and very informative,” said Goodcourage. “Mister Sneed’s presentation and movie really educated the students and provide a greater understanding of what they see before they tour the Old Hickory Dam.”

During the tour at the Old Hickory Dam it exposed the 6th grade students to the variety of STEM careers and engineering challenges led by some of the Corps' technical experts.  Hydropower Trainees Will Garner, Allen Hay, Michael Shirley, Garrett Hatter and Rob Ballachino provided the students with knowledge as they toured the control room, the turbine floor, to the intake deck, and onto the top of the dam to see the spillway.

“This is fun and exciting to interact with the students, hopefully this tour will encourage the kids to pursue a science, technology, engineering or math career,” said Garner.  “From the looks of their faces, they are having a great time.”

Cierra Rawls, a sixth grade student from Whitehouse, said she better understands why STEM subjects such as science and math are important to certain professions.

“Our STEM subjects relate to what we saw today because the control room panels start and stop certain things,” said Rawls.” “Then with science we saw how water, its measurements, data and use affects many of our resources.”

Lisa Anderson, 6th grade math and science teacher at Heritage Elementary School, said this was an excellent opportunity to link their STEM subjects with several primary subjects the students are learning. 

“We are currently learning about electricity and technology in class,” said Anderson. “We can do it all-day long but when they see and hear these hydropower trainees talk about how they went to school to do many of the jobs to do this, all the training it takes and it’s their career it really hits home with them.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District recognizes the critical role that STEM education plays in enabling the country to remain the economic and technological leaders of the global marketplace, and enabling the Department of Defense and Army in the security of our Nation.  The district is committed to teaming with others to strengthen STEM-related programs that inspire current and future generations of young people to pursue STEM careers. 

For more information about the district’s STEM program, please visit http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Missions/EngineeringandConstruction/STEMSupport.aspx.  For more news and updates follow the Nashville District on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps.