Table of Contents
Highlights from the East
Celebrating the Full Spectrum of STEM Learners
CESTEM, Youth Programs, the Center for Assistive Technology and the College of Health and Human Services hosted a special STEM event on April 16, 2016. The event, funded and featured as part of the North Carolina Science Festival, was a celebration of STEM for learners who are on the autism spectrum. Education and STEM specialists have created STEM activities using a universal design for learning (UDL) framework. The activities include robotics, engineering, geology, chemistry, exercise science and other sensory related STEM experiences.
The 2016 Regional SeaPerch Competition
hosted by CESTEM had 31 student teams (twice as many as last year) competing in nine events (twice as many as last year) using underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV). The Wilmington SeaPerch competition took place on Saturday May 21, 2016 at the Dinah E. Gore Fitness and Aquatics Center at Brunswick Community College. This year the 100 student participants came from Pender, Brunswick, and New Hanover Counties. Additionally, a school from Charlotte Mecklenburg area participated in our Regional Competition. For the SeaPerch Competition students must build their ROV using PVC pipe, various electrical components, and three motors. This growing program is continuing to expand with the inclusion of new counties and additional schools and team from counties currently participating in the program.
Since the spring of 2014, STEM West has been meeting twice a year to establish a regional effort of aligning traditional educational standards with occupational needs of western North Carolina. On April 10th, STEM West held its official established meeting at the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG). The WPCOG serves Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba Counties. With over 40 attendees from business, education (K-12, higher, and informal), and government, Dr. Carol Moore presented the initiatives for year one. Dr. Moore brings over 30 years of classroom experience and curriculum specialist leadership. She has retired to be able to dedicate her efforts to developing STEM West into a viable organization to increase STEM education in the region while working as the education arm of Workforce Development at the WPCOG.
With funding from the Duke Energy Foundation, Biogen, and Burroughs Wellcome Fund, STEM West will be scaling projects vetted through pilots. Working with Tracy Hall of Education Matters of Catawba Valley Community College, the EXTREME STEM Tours for all 8th grade students that originated with Catawba County Schools and funding from the Golden Leaf Foundation, will be scaled to surrounding districts. This summer, 20 9th and 10th grade science, math, and career-technical education teachers will be selected from 7 school districts to participate in Filling the Gap. This project was piloted in 2014-15 with funding for the Community Action Plans (CAP) from the Institute for Emerging Issues. These 20 teachers will be partnered with local STEM businesses to write and implement project based learning (PBL) units in their classrooms that align with a real business problem.
Moore stated, “PBL, done effectively, can address many of the challenges teachers and the business community have raised. This pedagogy increases student engagement because the problems, projects, issues are real and important. Students work collaboratively, using technological and local resources to solve problems or create projects to reveal their learning. The Filling the Gap project, similar to the CAP, adds an additional element of linking the problem and project to a local STEM business. Our business partners are engaged in the professional development with the teachers and are the link to making the unit real and engaging. These types of efforts are building and increasing partnerships between our schools and local STEM businesses in our community.”
The Biogen grant will offer 30 teachers the opportunity to attend a Train-the-trainer event called “Robox Sumo,” a more economical robotics event for the community. Attendees will leave with information, experience, and a bag of supplies to host their own events.