Daniel Pawlak, a parent of a son at Eagleville Elementary School (EES), is taking steps towards preparing fourth through sixth graders for their first occupations at NASA.
Pawlak has been involved with EES programs and classes since his son was in first grade. Four years later, Pawlak created a new science club using some of the knowledge he acquired while growing up.
“Science was always important. I grew up in a family that stressed science and learning,” Pawlak explained.
The Nucleus Science Program (NSP) is open to all fourth through sixth graders, and is meant to provide students an additional opportunity to learn more about science. The club also enabled Pawlak to give back to the school and teachers.
For almost a year, students in the NSP built a weather balloon to launch with the purpose of collecting data from the atmosphere. The data collected from the balloon’s flight would help Pawlak structure more projects and lessons for students.
Pawlak carefully planned comprehensible lessons for the students in advance before the club started working on the balloon so everyone had a solid background on the atmosphere. He then took much thought into crafting blueprints and step-by-step procedures that were understandable and easy to follow for the average ten year old. His teaching proved to be successful as all members of the NSP were able to contribute to the project by designing the balloon, constructing it, taking measurements, and much more.
The members of the NSP have shown much excitement and enthusiasm towards the weather balloon, Pawlak observed. “I saw a lot of sense of pride and accomplishment in the students’ faces.”
However, none of this would’ve been achieved had it not been for the Mukwonago Education Foundation. The Mukwonago Education Foundation donated $1000 to the balloon project, which covered most of expenses for equipment and materials.
“They were really instrumental in making the project work. Without it, it would’ve just been another dream that sat in my notebook,” Pawlak told. “The money was an opportunity.”
The unique aspect of the weather balloon project is that the overall design of the balloon allows for it to be reused with little additional spending required to replace parts. Pawlak would like to continue launching the weather balloon for more years to come. He also looks to incorporate more elementary schools throughout the district, and even the Mukwonago High School robotics team to further foster community and teamwork through science and engineering. Even with the possible blending of high school and elementary students, Pawlak is impressed with the work the students have done.
“We accomplished this with students that were much younger than college students who would do it,” Pawlak said. He believes that introducing kids to these experiences is an investment in the future. “I am looking for a better future for them and my son, and I think that starts with them.”.