STEM tours excite young minds


Jennifer Byrd

Editor in chief

Children on STEM tour exploring aerospace equipment

Students from Mid-Del middle schools explore the inner workings of aerospace equipment during campus STEM tours. Photo by Marisa Caban

 

Sixth-grade students from all five Mid-Del middle schools toured RSC throughout the month of November and participated in hands-on demonstrations in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, collectively known as STEM.

Dr. Wayne Jones, Science and Math dean, said the students were shown six areas of engineering and science associated with the aerospace industry to increase their interest in STEM related fields.

The STEM Education Coalition considers STEM education to be vitally important. According to their website, “STEM education must be elevated as a national priority.”

Jones and Ali Sexton, director of Prospective Student Services/Welcome Center, organized the tours with Sean Trent, Mid-Del STEM coordinator, as a way to introduce children to RSC and STEM occupations.

“Hopefully, the excitement they build here (on the tour) will lead them to choose more science and math classes and ultimately be prepared to pursue a college degree in a related field after high school,” Sexton said.

Something appears to be increasing awareness and building excitement. Jones said RSC experienced a 22 percent increase in STEM majors from fall 2012 to fall 2013, a difference of 175 students.

Pamela Schalk, Special Education teacher at Kerr Middle School, and her students enjoyed their time at RSC. “The science and math aspects of each STEM activity kept our students engaged and entertained,” she said.

According to the “U.S. Education Reform and National Security” report, a Council on Foreign Relations-sponsored Independent Task Force study, “60 percent of U.S. (STEM) employers are having difficulties finding qualified workers to fill vacancies at their companies.”

The report went on to say that failure to properly educate citizens puts the at risk economically, and stated that the country “will not be able to keep pace—much less lead—globally unless it moves to fix the problems it has allowed to fester for too long.”

STEM tours are anticipated to continue next year, and the annual children’s Science Fair will be held during the spring 2014 semester.  

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