Ke'Mun Martin sat in a classroom at Hardy Elementary with random objects scattered on the table in front of him, including a plastic ring, a coin, scissors, a dinosaur figurine and even a grapefruit.
After weighing his options, the 6-year-old picked up a red wire connected to a circuit and computer and stuck it in the side of the grapefruit. While holding another wire in his hand, a bright, white light flashed on the computer screen in front of him and a look of surprise appeared on Martin's face.
To Martin and his classmates circled around the table, it almost seemed like magic, but they soon learned that science — not magic — caused that white flash to appear. Citrus fruit can actually conduct electricity, explained their principal, Robin Bambrey.
At the first big assembly of the school year Wednesday morning, the local Amazon fulfillment center donated $10,000 in supplies to the East Chattanooga elementary school that every student — from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade — will get to use in their new STEAM lab, which stands for "Science, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics."
The donated supplies included the circuits that Martin and his classmates were experimenting with and several other items, including robots, a 3D printer, Kindle Fire tablets, microscopes, magnifying glasses, tubes and even a butterfly garden.
Bambrey said there's no way the school would have gotten the supplies otherwise.
"It's really going to up the level of engagement for them," she said. "They are going to be problem solvers."
When Travis Maynard, the director of operations at the fulfillment center, and 20 Amazon volunteers surprised the whole school with the supplies, they received cheers and a resounding, "Thank you!" from the students.
"We want to make sure the teachers have the tools and resources to allow the students to innovate and imagine," Maynard said. "This is the next group of innovators."
Contact staff writer Allison Shirk at email@example.com, @Allison_Shirk or 423-757-6651.