HISD students use STEM concepts to design spy gadgets for special Netflix events

What do you get when you combine a hit movie franchise, a box of crayons, and a cafeteria full of inventive fifth graders? If you didn’t say “gadgets designed to save the world,” then you’re not thinking like a Spy Kid.

Students at several HISD elementary schools were treated to a preview of the new Netflix movie “Spy Kids: Armageddon” and challenged to design their own spy gadget with the hope that the exercise will serve as a gateway to an interest in STEM learning.

Students enjoyed a hotdog tailgate provided by HISD’s Nutrition Services Department, fueling their bodies and brains to think outside the box and come up with a creative invention worthy of a Spy Kid’s toolkit.

“The trailer was played, then a question-and-answer period went forth in the classroom with their teacher where they discussed what they noticed, what elements of science were a part of it,” said Kelso Elementary Principal Shanda Walker. “It helped them to recognize that science is all around us.”

Walker hopes that this taste of STEM concepts will inspire students at Kelso to further utilize the campus’ STEM Makerspace cart, which includes a 3D printer, coding robots, drones, and other science and technology tools to fuel curiosity and hone problem-solving skills. Almost all HISD elementary campuses have a STEM Makerspace cart located in their library as of this year.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM occupations are projected to grow much faster than all other occupations, with higher wages and more available jobs as STEM industries expand. Houston, especially, with its proximity to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, is an ideal place to start a STEM education as early as possible.

“What we’re seeing happening is the kids are talking with their friends and collaborating on all sorts of different scientific ideas that will help them generate the best gadget and be successful,” said Stav Vaisman, CEO of InspiredConsumer, the community partner that made this Netflix event possible. “We’re using Netflix’s brand cache and intellectual property to help kids to learn and have fun, all without them realizing they’re learning.”

Melody, a Kelso fifth grader, drew a handful of spy gadgetry for the challenge, including a stuffed animal that produced tools at her request, and X-ray glasses to help her see through walls.

“When I was younger, I watched a bunch of ‘Spy Kids’ and superhero movies,” Melody said. “I saw all their gadgets, and it made me think about creating my own.”

With inspiration from “Spy Kids: Armageddon” and help from their teachers and librarians, HISD students are on their way to engineering the future of STEM in Houston and beyond.

To learn about the contents of HISD’s STEM Makerspace carts, visit Library Services’ Makerspaces page. For more information on other exciting community partnerships, visit Community Partnerships’ website, or follow them on Twitter @HISD_Partners.