Sunday, February 13, 2011

This Is How You Do STEM

STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math.  STEM efforts around the country try, among other things, to reverse the scary national statistic that 80% of parents discourage their children to pursue science and technology careers.

The Works, a science museum in Newark, Ohio, did STEM today and did it well as part of the first-ever STEMFest at The Works.  The Works brought parents and kids together with companies to show the local relevance of STEM skills.

The Works, truly, has the model for how a small community demonstrates the value of science, technology, engineering, and math to parents and kids.

Mix a science venue (The Works) with 15 companies showing what they do every day in a hands-on way (local relevance) with hundreds of parents and kids.   That's the basic recipe.

My kids got hands-on science from Boeing, Goodrich, Owens Corning, Bayer, Rolls-Royce, Park National Bank, Time Warner, AEP, Energy Co-Op, PCA, Denison University, Ohio University, Jobes Henderson and more.

There's not a bigger place on the planet that can boast having that impressive company array in one place doing this.

PCA makes boxes in Newark.  They had a super-engineered sheet of corrugated out of which my kids made bi-planes.

Bayer, which has a product development center in Hebron, brought its trademarked Making Science Make Sense program to The Works, again, today.  I learned why regular pop cans sink and diet pop cans don't.  It's the sugar!

Owens Corning makes fiberglass and asphalt shingles in Newark.  They equated it with cotton candy and chocolate and nuts coated graham crackers respectively.

Boeing re-manufacturers and produces guidance systems in Heath.  Their technicians were everywhere, including showing one of my sons how to make a perfect paper airplane (I believe it would have worked if he had listened to them) and another of my sons how to shoot off a container using Alka Seltzer.

Goodrich engineers next generation gyroscopes at the Aerospace Center in Heath.  Today, their engineers showed kids how a spinning bike wheel relates.

I could go on and on.

As I type this, we're missing the real show.  High schools from around Licking County formed 15 teams to compete on science and engineering challenges.  One winning team will show the best bridge made out of toothpicks and another will show how to best insulate a home.

Again, this is how to do it.  STEM at The Works, works.

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