NEWPORT, Tenn. — A Newport Grammar School STEM teacher takes hands-on learning to a whole new level.
He teaches everything from cell structure, the inner workings of the body and even the dangers of vaping.
Stepping into Phillip Lewis' STEM lab classroom at NGS is always an experiment.
"When I come in I get real excited about what they're gonna do," Lewis smiled. "I get to go to science class every day."
Lewis has his dream job as a one-of-a-kind STEM lab teacher at NGS-- and it's not just because he grew up in the school's halls.
He still has his NGS Kindergarten perfect attendance award on the bookshelf in the front of his classroom.
"They know that when they come in here they're going to be doing something hands on, something fun and they're able to be creative when they do that," Lewis explained. "So it's neat to bring that aspect back into the community I grew up in."
He makes real-world applications with every lesson. So in a usual run-of-the-mill lesson about the respiratory system, kids make a lung in a cup and learn about the dangers of vaping.
But he's also previously made his classroom into a cell and created escape rooms using lesson plans.
This former magician knows how to make lightbulbs appear.
“I’m able to share these things with kids, and I’m honestly probably the first person that may have showed them something, and to see all these little lightbulbs go off, those aha moments are awesome,” Lewis said.
His curiosity fuels his love of science, which is contagious for the students.
Most at the front table in the classroom said their favorite subject was science because of the STEM Lab class.
So whether it's balloon cup lungs or reaching for the stars, "It's hard to be in a bad mood when you're around kids and you can see them growing," Lewis admitted.
Lewis hopes his efforts turn students toward careers in STEM as the field grows and evolves.
The STEM Lab is not considered a "special area" like gym and art class.
The students in fifth through eighth grade at NGS come to STEM Lab once every week during their class science time.
The students in third and fourth grades come to STEM Lab once every other week
Each session is different and correlates with what the students are learning in class anyway. Lewis and the teachers collaborate on what projects and experiments should be done each time.