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  • 1.  Sharing examples and experience with STEM outreach

    Posted 10-23-2022 10:35 AM
    Are you involved in pre-college STEM outreach and if it would be great if you could share your role and experience. This might help stimulate others to join this critical area of volunteerism as well as highlight the level of engagement within our Member ranks.

    To start off, I've been doing in-classroom Algebra 1 tutoring for the past 4 years at a nearby high school.  My principal role is to help the students with their in-class practice problems, supplementing the teacher and enabling more 1:1 help than they can provide. The high school is located in a relatively disadvantaged area and many of the students lack the foundation in math that they should ideally have entering 9th grade. My commitment is 2 days a week for 2 classes which I try to meet but because of the nature of the role there is also the flexibility to take time off when I'm traveling or have another conflict. I've found the role to be a very rewarding experience and have been heartened by the impact I and others in the program have been having on standardized test scores. The program that I'm part of was started by another retiree and attached for credibility to a professional society (not ASCE). As volunteer programs this program is great because of its simplicity, it is scalable, and it is very volunteer friendly. Critical success factors are administration support and teacher willingness and comfort of having another adult in the room. I have the utmost admiration and respect for the teacher I have been volunteering with and feel very welcomed  and recognized for my efforts.

    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX

  • 2.  RE: Sharing examples and experience with STEM outreach

    Posted 10-24-2022 05:00 AM

    My final project before retirement was construction inspection for a new bridge over I-90 in Chicago.  That included photographing the contractor's work.  After retiring, I returned to other contractors, other bridges, and got permission to photograph their work.  

    I then created a 45 minute PowerPoint discussion to show high school and college students what civil engineers do for construction.  What we inspect and how we do it.  Detailed pictures.  

    Thank you.

    Russell King, PE, MASCE

    Russsell King
    Lakewood, Illinois

  • 3.  RE: Sharing examples and experience with STEM outreach

    Posted 10-24-2022 10:56 AM
    Before retiring, I developed engineering related programs for explorer scouts.  The scouting program slowly fissiled out in our area.

    After retiring in 2010, the first thing I did was to go to the STEM leader at our local high school.  I volunteered to assist in adding my experience to his technical demonstrations, especially relating to civil, structures, hydraulics, and physics.  No call back despite initial enthusiasm.  I suspect resistance on the part of educators, because they don't want to broaden their scope.  They have trouble fitting in the basic requirements.  I also suspect that educators have built in barriers to individuals outside the industry because of safety as well as territorial concerns.

    Then I constructed physical models of electromagnetic principles to demonstrate at STEM shows.  Some success over several years, but then COVID shut down the entire interactive STEM show culture.  I now find it difficult to pass on my work effort.  Younger working people do not have the time to do the types of things that I did in this regard.

    Now I am directing my efforts to teaching music and music technology appreciation to senior citizens at retirement centers.  I am using stereo systems that I have designed and built.

    My point is that if your efforts to share STEM knowledge doesn't work out, try something else, but never give up.

    James Ward P.E., M.ASCE
    Worthington OH

  • 4.  RE: Sharing examples and experience with STEM outreach

    Posted 10-30-2022 11:23 AM
    The DiscoverE Future Cities competition is a good well-established way to encourage young people to become the problem solvers of tomorrow.  A shout-out to Reed Brockman, former Boston Section president who keeps the team of professional volunteers engaged.  Their website is a bit clue-gy but mentoring or judging is a lot of fun.  Like the Destination Imagination or Bridgebuilding competitions.  It always pains me a little when adults urge kids not to become engineers and scientists to be solution creators, but political advocates.  Yes, we need both, but having the math and tech skills gets us a lot further toward a better future (when politicians understand what we're doing)

    Sarah Simon P.E., ENV SP, M.ASCE
    Founding Partner
    Ipswich MA