Spring Branch ISD Featured News

Collaborative Spirit results in energy-filled learning


Rubber band rockets were flying through the air at Nottingham Elementary in Spring Branch ISD recently, as students in every grade participated in a Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM) project designed to teach them about different types of energy: stored potential and energy in motion (kinetic).

In a partnership with Matthew Cushing, executive director of Rice University’s Office of STEM Engagement, students were guided through the design, construction and launching of their rockets, and recorded the results to discover which factors made the devices go higher, farther and faster. 

Second grader Xander V. said, “My rocket went about 10 feet each shot. I had so much fun watching it move! It was cool!”

Cushing engaged with the students via an online presentation for both virtual and in-person students. “After a brief introduction of mechanical energy and force and motion, we walked through the steps of building the rubber band rockets and then how engineers improve upon designs and make modifications to their designs,” Cushing said. 

Nottingham Principal Becky Hagan noted that this fun STEM event was a way for students to connect, learn from other people and make great memories.

“This year we really had to think of different ways of ‘bringing us together’ as one school community,” Hagan said. “It was great to see our teachers and students learning and having fun together. We appreciate our partnership with Rice University!”

Elementary PTA science liaison, Karen Smith, and Kelly Borally, the campus’ math and science specialist, organized the collaboration with Rice. 

“It was an exciting hour visiting all the classrooms and hearing the kiddos eager to demonstrate to me how far their rubber band rocket launched and explain why,” Borally said.

A former teacher at Pine Shadows Elementary in Spring Branch ISD, Cushing’s connection to the district still means a lot to him. He also collaborates with Donald Burken, Director of Science in SBISD, to host the Rice Elementary Model STEM Lab in the district, a yearlong inquiry-based program for Houston area math and science teachers.

Thank you, Mr. Cushing, for a Collaborative Spirit that gives Every Child at Nottingham Elementary the opportunity to grow their Limitless Curiosity. We are #SBISDProud of you.