Hands-on learning

The Curiosity Cube stopped by William Ziegler Elementary School last week to give students hands-on learning about cells.

Satisfying their curiosity: The Curiosity Cube visited William Ziegler Elementary School, 5935 Saul St., last Thursday. Students packed inside and out of the 22×10-foot shipping container to get a hands-on experience learning about cells. LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTO

Virtual reality blood cells. Robots that follow paths colored by markers. Microscopes showing cells from different parts of the body. All that and more packed in a bright pink and lime green shipping container.

The Curiosity Cube visited William Ziegler Elementary School’s parking lot last Thursday. Students packed inside and out of the 22×10-foot shipping container to get a hands-on experience learning about cells.

MilliporeSigma created the mobile learning center to tour the country to spark early interest in STEM field careers. STEM careers are predicted to rise 25 percent from 2008 to 2018, and early engagement is crucial to getting students curious.

This is the second year of the tour, which started in San Diego and made its way across the country, stopping in cities along the way. In 2017, the solar-powered lab engaged more than 38,000 students in 85 communities in the country.

LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTO

The students cycled through three labs. Outside the van, they got to explore the inside of cells by holding virtual reality glasses to their eyes. The cells tilted as they moved their heads back and forth. Inside, students could code specific paths for robots via coloring different patterns for them to travel along. They also examined a variety of cells through microscopes and were quizzed on what they were looking at.

The cube will make another tour next year with a different theme.

Kaely Zeiser, Curiosity Cube coordinator, said kids are always excited before they get to explore.

“Students always walk away with smiles on their faces,” she said. Last year, 77 percent of students said they were more interested in science after visiting the cube. ••

LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTOS