The Indiana University East School of Natural Science and Mathematics (NSM), Purdue Polytechnic Richmond and Belden partnered to provide an Indiana Kids STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Workshop for Hibberd Early College Academy students on November 29.
Presenters included Neil Sabine, dean of NSM at IU East; Wes Tobin, assistant professor of physics at IU East; NSM students Cassidy Clouse, Umer Khan and Ana Aquino; Mike Swain, director of Purdue Polytechnic Richmond; and Daniel Segura-Leon and Nelson Oliver, both product development engineers at Belden.
There were 75 Hibberd students – in sixth, seventh and eighth grades – who attended the STEM workshop.
Tiauna Washington is the sixth-eighth grades Early College Science and Early College Coordinator. “This is a great opportunity for our students to see the options available in STEM and to learn what they can do in the future,” Washington said.
The IUPUI Office of Community Engagement in collaboration with six Indiana University campuses is providing free mentoring, tutoring, and educational workshops to middle and high school students across the state. The work is supported by a grant from Serve Indiana’s Indiana Kids program. The mission of Serve Indiana is to “advance service and volunteerism by informing, connecting, and promoting opportunities and resources that enrich the lives of Hoosiers.”
Tobin said he was happy to talk with the students.
“It was good to show that STEM isn’t just found in a laboratory or a textbook – but that we’re real people, who – just like the students – are curious about how the universe works,” Tobin said. “Curiosity is the primer of science and the engine of achievement, so by stirring their curiosity, we’re helping them to see that they have many life-long opportunities in STEM.”
IU East’s Center for Service-Learning integrated Indiana Kids into its Math Counts! program, a tutoring program that pairs college students one-on-one with younger students to provide math tutoring free of charge. Math Counts! is funded by a Chancellor’s Innovation Grant and by the Stamm-Koechlein Family Foundation, allowing services to expand, develop, and grow. Younger students are matched with a college student who serves as a mentor/tutor.
This free service is available at the IU East campus after school during the school year and all day in the summer, as well as at many partner sites across the IU East service area. One of these sites is Hibberd Early College Academy, where IU East college students have been helping in math classrooms and mentoring on a weekly basis. The mentors work with groups of students in Socratic discussions and with individual students on academics, college, and career goals, as well as positive choices with decisions they face at school, home, or work.
The Indiana Kids program adds significantly to this service by offering free online tutoring. Indiana Kids also provides for workshops for its participants. The center designed and implemented a College and Career Readiness Workshop in June 2017 at the IU East campus, as well as the STEM Workshop at Hibberd Early College Academy, with IU East Natural Science and Mathematics Faculty and Students, Purdue Polytechnic, and Belden Engineers.
Segura Leon and Oliver talked with the students about Belden and its products, but also how to become an engineer and to learn about the different fields the profession offers.
“I definitely think getting students interested in STEM early is important,” Oliver said. “Their curiosity at this point is impressive.”
Segura Leon agreed that getting students who are interested in math and science to think about future careers early, was important.
“Getting that exposure early to different forms of engineering is important so that they can learn what field they want to go into,” Segura Leon said.
IU East students took an active part in the STEM workshop.
Clouse is the IU East student coordinator for Indiana Kids.
“There are already a lot of kids who are interested in STEM programs,” Clouse said. “Having people in those careers here in the classroom is an incredible opportunity for those students that many do not have a chance to have.”
Ann Tobin is the campus/community service-learning liaison for the Center for Service-Learning at IU East.
“On a personal note about the power of this kind of outreach, I know a post doctorate at a major university who decided he wanted to be a chemist the day a chemist visited his third-grade class,” Ann Tobin said. “Most students in general just aren’t exposed to many careers, especially STEM careers, so those people who come to their schools to share their career experiences open their minds to previously unimagined possibilities.”