It’s a race to the finish line and the ultimate learning experience.

A hands-on approach to learning about science, technology, engineering and math.  Also known as “STEM.”

 These 5th graders from Georgia and Alabama are learning how to design and build JetToys thanks to  “A World in Motion JetToy Challenge” sponsored by Kia. 

Stuart Countess is the Chief Administrative Officer and Vice President with Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Incorporated.  He says the competition is good for the community as a whole. 

“It’s a great opportunity for us to prepare a workforce for the future by engaging them in hands-on activities, learning how to problem solve.  We as a company see that as one of the most beneficial ways to energize what could be people who work at our plant 10-20 years from now.”

Students are getting the message. 

Riontae Zeigler is one of the participants and says he has a plan.  “We’re trying to build a sturdier base so it won’t just go side to side.”

Catalina Starr says the competition was a great experience and she learned something in the process. 

 “I’ve learned about how different things and different materials change the sort of 
things that happen and how there’s always a cause and effect in this kind of stuff.”

Long Cane Elementary teacher Kristi Ferguson says her students are reaping the benefits.

 “With today’s industry, you’ve got hands-on things. They have to be problem solvers.  They have to work together with people as a group in different businesses, so it’s good preparation for that.”

Preparing for the future is helping students now. 

Chris Ciuca, Director of Pre-Professional Education, SAE, International,  says they’re seeing results. 

“Not only are grades improving. Math and science grades are going up on report cards but more importantly, we’re seeing changes in teachers’ attitudes in delivering science and technology instruction.  There’s a higher comfort level.”

Students like Catalina know it’s not just about building a car today. It’s about building dreams for tomorrow. 

 “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up but something with science or helping others.”

For now, that’s a good start. 

For Kia in the classroom, I’m Teala Stahl.