The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Far East District partnership with Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDS) Korea promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) entered its fourth school year as employees of the district’s geotechnical branch performed numerous geological experiments at Seoul American Elementary School Sept. 30.
The experiments centered on, geography, maps, population studies, terrain analysis, and soil permeability.
“I thought it'd be a good learning opportunity for the students if we could somehow relate our work to the topic of STEM and visualize it with experiments so the students could better understand the topic,” said Steve Kim, Far East District geotechnical section acting chief. “Since the students are currently learning about the geography of ancient civilizations in their social studies class, I thought we could make the learning more effective by going into details about the geography and geology of Egypt.”
The idea for the lesson came from Seoul American Elementary School’s sixth grade social studies teacher and former engineer Charles Perryman. Perryman was familiar with earlier presentations the Far East District had previously made at the school.
“I reached out to the Far East District so the students would better understand the importance of using maps, and why certain regions, with their climate, rainfall and soil are better at fostering civilizations,” said Perryman. “I want to help develop within them a skillset they can take with them for the rest of their life. With these experiments they see some reality to it and they can teach it, understand it and see why it’s important.”
Three separate sixth-grade classes took part in the experiments showcasing how soil retains water and what made for the best soil for farming in ancient Egypt.
“I think it is interesting to look at the scientific aspects of how ancient cultures developed,” said Gavin Hatalosky, a 6th grade student at Seoul American Elementary School. It’s pretty cool that the Far East District turned it [the subject manner] in to more visual displays so kids can enjoy it more.”
Perryman said even if only a handful of students walked away saying that it was interesting it was well worth the effort since they will take those engineering principles even further in their lives.
“If we can make education less about text books and more about discovery of learning then we are advancing technology in the education field,” said Perryman.
Activities such as these are part of an education partnership agreement signed in 2013 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and DoDDS Korea. The partnership centers on support for the science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiative.