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K12 STEM Engagement

  • 1.  K12 STEM Engagement

    Posted 01-22-2019 13:05
    ​Over the holidays, I read a couple of articles which I'd like to share here with you. The first suggests K12 students need locally relevant engineering challenges to stimulate a desire to pursue STEM careers, and the second suggests there is a lack of identifiable engineering role models for K12 students.

    There seems to be excellent SAMPE support of university students, and I know the SAMPE foundation provides some K12 support, but what other events or activities do you or your companies do to promote STEM careers in your local K12 communities? Having grown up in a rural community and migrating to the city for university and career aspirations, I find this to be an especially interesting topic when related to small town K12 education and career mentoring. I'm looking forward to hearing anyone else's thoughts on the topic!

    Report: To Engage Students, Science Ed Needs to Emphasize Local Phenomena -- THE Journal

    Lack of engineering role models aggravates skills shortage, says IET


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    Eric Schmid
    CAPE Lab - SDSMT
    Rapid City, SD
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  • 2.  RE: K12 STEM Engagement

    Posted 01-23-2019 20:38
    One way to get great visibility for both students and industry is to provide sponsorships for FIRST robotics teams.  (FIRST Home) There are leagues for elementary school students (~4th grade) up to leagues for high school students (12th grade).  Teams build robots to compete, so there is electrical, mechanical, and materials engineering involved.  Teams compete in competitions that occur nationwide, and the competitions are webcast out.  Sponsor logos are easily visible.  Winners from regional competitions go on to national competitions.  This year's theme is "space" to commemorate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

    I have been a mentor for 5 seasons.  Having worked in the composited business for >20 years, I have been trying to get composite materials incorporated into their robots.  This year we are working with laser cut plywood.  As you may know, plywood is actually a low cost 0/90 composite material.

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    John Kesapradist
    [JobTitle]
    Space Systems/Loral
    Palo Alto CA
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  • 3.  RE: K12 STEM Engagement

    Posted 02-08-2019 21:04
    John,

    FIRST Robotics is a great program! But I wonder if this doesn't actually address the issues highlighted in those articles. While FIRST does give students great opportunities for STEM exposure, is that exposure truly at the local level? Does it create identifiable, local engineering role models? I know I'm guilty of this - when I think of engineering companies, I tend to think of the big players, not the local "shops and garages". When I think of engineering role models, I think of Neil deGrasse Tyson, not the local person down the street who has been building composite parts for 30 years.

    Do we (as engineers, as members of SAMPE, as the greater science community, etc.) do a good enough job of promoting local engineering firms and role model mentors to our K12 audiences? And if we don't, how can we do better?

    Thanks for the dialogue!
    Eric

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    Eric Schmid
    CAPE Lab - SDSMT
    Rapid City, SD
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  • 4.  RE: K12 STEM Engagement

    Posted 02-11-2019 12:04
    FIRST Robotics is a tiny start to get children interested in STEM and beginning to think like engineers and scientists.  However, it takes each of us to get involved and inject ourselves into these programs.  The schools especially public schools do not have the caliber of teachers they once did, those that teach science and math are no longer practicing scientists and engineers that later in life decided to teach and instill actual problem solving.


    I have personally volunteered as a mentor and judge for these competitions locally in the middle school and high school level. Especially as a judge the children learned the most by being asked difficult questions that they couldn't answer off the top of their heads.  Some of my questions, required them to re-research their entire display and arrive at a better hypothesis.  The ones that did then went onto the regional finals.

    It also take us going into speak at career days and anywhere else that we can push more rigor into these programs.  I think of this as investing are time and energy into developing our workforce that we will be hiring shortly.  Do we want candidates that can think, problem solve, and be creative when you have real world constraints or a bunch of test takers?

    If you have the ability, to sponsor as a company or as a person, do so. Also my unsolicited advice when connecting with the students is to use the Socratic method of questions to get them to think.  Let them arrive at the right answer by their own methods.   This generation when you can get their attention away from their phones is to engage in a relationship that guides and mentors and not lectures.

    Scott Graley
    Burleson, TX

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    Scott Graley
    [JobTitle]
    F-Wave, LLC.
    Burleson TX
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  • 5.  RE: K12 STEM Engagement

    Posted 02-12-2019 17:42
    A tiny start?!  Are you kidding me?  On the team I am mentoring, some of the 16 year old kids are already able to kick my ass in SolidWorks.  Is that not a STEM skill?  I am teaching them the basics of making aerospace-quality adhesive bonds, based on what we do for spacecraft at my work.  We will also be doing vacuum bagging, so they will learn the finer details of vacuum bagging just like we do for satellite parts.  We have the kids coordinate their work from a systems level, just like what I did when I was in satellite systems engineering.  They are learning real STEM skills, and they know that they are learning from an engineer from a real aerospace engineering company.  The programming group is being mentored by a genius programmer from Apple Computer.  They are learning C++ concepts and visual processing concepts not taught in ordinary high school programming classes.  This is concentrated learning for a relatively small group of students.  There are plenty of tournament venues at the local level, which prospective team founders can search for.  Competitions start at the local level, but good teams progress to the national level.  There are actual prizes and cheering for successful (intellectual) STEM endeavors.

    I have also done DiscoverE for the last 19 years, going to elementary schools to introduce kids to engineering (the E part of Discover).  This is more cursory, but reaches ~30 kids per visit.  I suppose I've touched >1000 kids so far.

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    John Kesapradist
    [JobTitle]
    Space Systems/Loral
    Palo Alto CA
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  • 6.  RE: K12 STEM Engagement

    Posted 02-13-2019 11:50

    I agree FIRST is an awesome program.   I have been involved in FIRST for many years as a mentor, judge, field supervisor etc.  The program teaches team work (and other soft skills), engineering, and shop skills.  I would encourage the SAMPE community to get involved.  The kids need to learn more about advanced materials such as composites.   We can be those local engineering role models. 

    Dean Kamen the founder of FIRST states Robotics is the only sport where everyone can go pro!  Here is a great article he posted.

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dean-kamen/the-only-sport-where-ever_b_9219890.html



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    John F. Unser
    Technology Impact Manager
    IACMI - The Composites Institute
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