BGSU builds upon existing engagement and partnerships
STEM is a significant focus of education at all levels, driven by workforce demand within Ohio and beyond. BGSU meets this community need starting with the youngest students and continuing through the university level and into the many careers that depend on this skill set.
“Our emphasis on promoting STEM engagement is not because STEM is more important than other aspects of human endeavor such as the arts and humanities or the social and behavioral sciences,” W. Robert Midden, Ph.D. explained. He’s the University’s associate vice president for experiential and innovative learning, the director of the University’s Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education, and as associate professor chemistry. “It’s because for a variety of reasons, many young people are not recognizing the appeal and promise that STEM represents and are not realizing their full potential for learning in STEM fields.”
The University supports its students’ and the community’s potential year-round with targeted events and programs.
In the spring, Literacy in the Park targets preschoolers with a depth and breadth of literacy that encourages science-focused activities to welcome early inventions, accidental discoveries and more.
Throughout the year, the University’s CODE4her program matches middle school girls with student members of BGSU Women in Computing to provide a fun, engaging introduction to computer science. This program, with support from a Google grant, enables University students to serve as mentors and leaders to the middle school students. A CODE4her summer camp maintains the momentum during a time when academic skills sometimes “melt.”
In the summer, the CREATE! Conference inspires educators to explore and discover real-world, standards-based lessons that incorporate creativity, technology and 21st century skills. It showcases area teachers’ best practices and fosters the sharing of ideas and collaboration. The University has co-sponsored this annual event since 2014.
In the fall, STEM in the Park encourages elementary students to explore the fun of STEM in a variety of settings and careers. This year’s theme was “Take Flight with STEM,” and the University partnered with the Wood County Air Fair as well as 60+ other STEM-centered organizations and activities.
Later in the fall, the University’s multidisciplinary Collab Lab hosts Women in STEM for middle school girls from Toledo Public Schools and Seneca East Schools. The Collab Lab is the University’s hands-on creative space for students, faculty, staff and community members to engage in collaborative work, all centered around design thinking. Blending these skill sets, in 2018 the Women in STEM students created and tested paper airplanes they designed – a fun way to explore how STEM affects our lives in ways we might not have considered.
Wrapping up the year, the University partners with the Northwest Ohio Center of Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education and others to host an annual symposium. This event enables preschool through Grade 16 educators to share and learn from one another in a common effort to advance STEM education.
All these areas connect with STEM differently, reflecting the community’s most critical needs of today and tomorrow. “For our society to be able to generate the innovative solutions to the problems that we face such as climate change and world hunger, and to meet workforce needs,” Dr. Midden said, “we need to be sure that all students understand, appreciate and are able to use well the powerful tools that STEM represents in the ways that are best suited for their future roles.”