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K-State Today

June 29, 2017

Summer STEM Institute to host first showcase for campus, community

Submitted by Patrice Scott

Four weeks of learning cleverly disguised as a fun summer camp will culminate in the first STEM Showcase highlighting the efforts of 325-plus students who participated in the Summer STEM Institute co-hosted by the K-State College of Education and Manhattan-Ogden USD 383. 

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, and the showcase will be 9-11 a.m. Friday, June 30, in the K-State Student Union Ballroom. The event is free and the public is invited to attend. The institute was June 5-29.  

Lori Goodson, College of Education assistant professor and Summer STEM Institute coordinator, said the expo will be yet another new addition to the institute. 

"We'll have drone demonstrations, as well as videos and other examples of 'products' the students created throughout the month," Goodson said. "Local middle schoolers, assisted by our College of Education future teachers and the USD 383 teachers, will lead the showcase. It's hard to explain just how amazing the institute is." 

Lacee Sell, executive director of Teaching and Learning for USD 383, reiterated Goodson's points and offered others. 

"We are so excited about the showcase because it gives our teachers an amazing forum to display new strategies, and it gives the kids a chance to share their successes and engage with the community," Sell said. "There is a wow factor here and I believe the community will be quite impressed with what USD 383 and the College of Education have created." 

Todd Goodson, associate professor and chair of the department of curriculum and development, said the institute continues to expand to meet the needs of the students. 

"Each year the institute gets bigger and better in terms of the number of middle school students participating and the number of sessions available for them," Todd Goodson said. "We felt it was time to create an event that would allow us to share the work that has been happening the last four weeks with the entire campus community." 

Sell believes business leaders and the Manhattan community will appreciate the concerted effort the district and the College of Education have put forward to expose more students to STEM fields. 

"We dream really big and want to provide as many opportunities for kids as we possibly can," Sell said. "We want and need even more community partners to join the Summer STEM Institute next summer to help support this initiative." 

Debbie Mercer, dean of the College of Education, believes the institute is growing because it has, well, a winning formula. 

"When you have passionate teachers and curious students working with enthusiastic future teachers and faculty experts across campus, this is the result," Mercer said. "Great programs appear simple but nothing could be further from the truth. The enduring value and incredible strength of this program rests squarely with the educators who spend months and months making complex theories fun and relatable." 

Sell thinks even students who didn't participate in the institute will benefit from the experience. 

"The institute allows teachers to step back and infuse STEM components into a class they've dreamed of creating," Sell said. "These successful strategies can go back with them into their classrooms during the school year." 

2017 Summer STEM Institute classes included:

  • Biomechanical Engineering: Teams used biology and engineering to address medical issues such as designing a model life vest that would allow a model dog to float or a prosthetic tail for a fish model.
  • CSI: Uncovering the Truth: Discover how professional CSI agents tackle crime scenes using the latest technology. Teams gathered, analyzed and documented evidence through hands-on labs that tested investigative skills.
  • Hollywood Science: Teams learned the science of filmmaking and animating stories and discovered what goes into telling quality stories, designing sets and animating a variety of tools and resources.
  • Maker Space: Students used power tools and raw materials to create projects that promoted recycling, innovation, creativity and skill building. 
  • Monster Storms: Students flew into the eye of a hurricane or chased tornadoes through Tornado Alley. They learned how powerful storms form and how cutting-edge technology is used to forecast weather.
  • Music Using STEM is Cool: Students built a banana piano, learned about sound waves and composed a song with Garage Band. 
  • Robotics 1 at STARBASE: Teams created and commanded the new Lego MINDSTORM EV3 robot. They programmed robots to navigate through a maze and completed challenges using basic sensors. (National Guard Armory.)
  • Robotics 2 at STARBASE: Building on the knowledge gained in Robotics 1, students programmed more challenging missions. (National Guard Armory.)
  • Rocking and Rolling Coasters: Students learned about the effects of forces by making a thrill ride. They built and tested thrill rides with K'Nex and filmed an advertisement for an amusement park.
  • Science of Sports: Teams used hands-on activities to explore the mechanics of sports and objects used in sports.
  • Simulating the Martian: Students used the programming language Scratch to create computer simulations to help an astronaut stranded on Mars return home. 
  • Solar Construction: Teams constructed a solar cooker to test heating a s'more and constructed a solar car to compete against other engineers.