19 July 2021
Watson Institute for SciEng Research provides mentorship at Edu-Futuro’s summer STEM program.
Edu-Futuro is a fellow 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Arlington, Virginia and serves the public to empower immigrant and underserved youth and families through mentorship, education, leadership development, and parent engagement. As part of their Emerging Leaders Programs, the summer STEM program provides emerging young leaders with exposure to specialized STEM concepts and skills in order to pursue a career in STEM. Held virtually over July 12th-15th, SciEng Research provided mentorship during the high school STEM workshops, serving as a source of inspiration and leadership to the students while supporting the guided STEM activities.
The first day focused on the first letter of STEM: Science. Students were introduced to working in meteorology from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researcher and learned about weather forecasting, severe weather, and the National Weather Service (NWS). These topics were then applied to a National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) simulation, where students were exposed to radar data and weather reports from real events to experience being a warning forecaster issuing severe weather warnings.
Day two provided insights into Technology and guided students through the journey of a Levvel software engineer. The story led students to learning of creating games with computer programming using a code.org application. Code.org is a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools and increasing participation of young women and students from other underrepresented groups, with the vision that every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science. The hands-on portion consisted of students coding and playing their own versions of the game Flappy Bird.
‘How Engineers See the World’ summarized day three. Students learned of the scope and applications of many different types of engineering, including learning about civil engineering from a Engineering Research and Development Center (ERDC) engineer. The lesson culminated in an activity using TinkerCAD where students experienced creating various designs for civil engineering applications, culminating in a ‘think like an engineer’ activity where students showcased their creativity and ingenuity by creating their own designs.
The final day wrapped up the STEM acronym with Mathematics and a George Mason University professor showing the many ways in which math concepts can be applied to everyday life. Students learned of the power of back-of-the-envelope calculations in being able to quickly solve problems in real-time. This tied into computational thinking in which students learned to further decompose problems in order to derive their root causes. The mathematical lessons culminated in a takeaway of the 3 F’s: not being afraid of and learning from Failure and introducing the concepts of cognitive Fluidity and Flexibility.