STEM education: An important focus

Outreach programs teach STEM disciplines

kid-tech-university

Bowling Green State University places a premium on a curriculum rich in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Each year, the College of Arts and Sciences has numerous opportunities to help create curiosity and interest in STEM for potential future Falcons.

Among the outreach STEM programs are three that are planned this spring: Science Olympiad, Kids Tech University and Code4Her.  

For the fourth consecutive year, BGSU is host to a regional Science Olympiad. Nearly 600 students in grades 6-12 will be on science olympiadcampus March 17 to participate in the regional tournament, which consists of 23 individual STEM-related events in two age brackets. The events span the range of STEM disciplines and involve such tasks as taking a test on certain material, performing a lab experiment, or building a device ahead of time to perform a specific task, among others.  

BGSU faculty and graduate students from Physics and Astronomy, Mathematics and Statistics, Biology, and Chemistry, with some help from the teachers, will run the 46 events, including writing tests, supervising, and scoring.   

Currently 40 teams (24 high school teams and 16 junior high teams) are registered to compete. Winners from the regional tournament advance to the state tournament in Columbus in April and state winners go on to nationals in May.

Kids’ Tech University introduces children between 9 and 12 years of age to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics by introducing them to scientists who work in those fields. They also participate in hands-on activities that allow them to explore scientific concepts. The four Saturday sessions run Feb. 11 through March 24.  

Each session starts with a morning presentation by the invited speaker; the afternoon features a series of hands-on activities relevant to the session topic that children can participate in with their parents. Topics covered this year include surveying microbes and viruses in the oceans, how drones are used in research, how parasites control host behavior and how plants that are better sources of the essential nutrient iron are being used to improve human health in developing countries.  

Online registration ($90 fee) is on a first-come, first-served basis at Kids’ Tech University. Some scholarships are available; contact Dr. Paul Morris, Kids’ Tech University director at pmorris@bgsu.edu for more information.

Code4Her is an innovative, computer science mentorship program for girls in grades 5 through 8. Organized by the BG Women in Computing (BGWIC) student organization and their faculty advisor Jadwiga A. Carlson, Code4Her teaches coding and computer concepts to encourage girls to discover the world of computer science.  

The mentorship program is sponsored by Google IgniteCS, which provides funds and resources for college students to make a difference in their local communities through computer science mentorship. During the spring session, which is the third offering of the program, participants will learn to program with Sphero SPRK+ Robots. The sessions are on Sunday afternoons from Jan. 21 through April 22. Currently they are registering only for the waitlist. Visit the website for more information.