STEM Day seeks to stem new technology workers

Is the measurement right? Rogers Elementary School STEM Day (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) speaker Ryan Carlson of 3M helps students Jacob Nelson and Mason Hatcher design a 2-foot structure. (Sun staff photos by Aaron Brom) Ryan Carlson of 3M sees if Rogers Elementary School students Brooke Carlson and Aiyana Xaphouvong have the right balance in their 2-foot structure, as part of a science experiment. Kevin Jenkins of General Dynamics assists Rogers Elementary School students, left to right, Ella O’Shea, Sabryn Walstrom and Hannah Heimer in their STEM Day science project that involves using everyday fruits and vegetables to generate an electric charge. Enthusiastic students in Sue Saquitne’s Rogers Elementary School class gather for a STEM Day project that involves real-life engineering by solving problems.
Students in Denise Wallesen’s class at Rogers Elementary School connect wires to to see how much charge they can get from acidity in fruits and vegetables.
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Kevin Jenkins of General Dynamics assists Rogers Elementary School students, left to right, Ella O’Shea, Sabryn Walstrom and Hannah Heimer in their STEM Day science project that involves using everyday fruits and vegetables to generate an electric charge.

Rogers students meet the experts

Science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) is fun?

Not a believer? Ask any Rogers Elementary School student who took part in the school’s recent STEM Day, where experts in their fields came into to class with loads of experiments that not only sought to stimulate young minds, but to show them that they can enjoy STEM in the process and have a little fun.

For example, Kevin Jenkins of General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems showed students the science behind using everyday fruits and vegetables to power Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Students in Denise Wallesen’s scurried about connecting things like pickles, potatoes and lemons, whose acidity packs enough punch to light up an LED.

Other projects included building a paper DNA molecule to see if scientists could combine a firefly and plant; using an Ipad application for software programming; applying engineering skills to accomplish a task; creative thinking in different aspects of engineering; looking at heart valves and porcine tissue to develop life saving devices and biological advances; and using engineering for everyday items like toys, phones and keyboards.

Some of the projects are “cool” such as Jim Glomstad of Sportech’s “How to Make Cool Stuff,” where students learned how to make products by solving math problems.

Scott Kleespies’ “Explosions and Slime and Chemistry! Oh My!” students learned how chemistry is everywhere, and had fun by doing experiments of their own.

And local companies were involved, too, such as Graco of Rogers, where engineer Keith Viggers taught students about the company and its plan for growth.

Even live interaction played a part, as students experienced a “Survivor Glacier Bay” live interactive visit with a park ranger at Glacier Bay National Park, where they learned about mammals, birds and fish.

“We’re giving a real-life example of real-life engineering,” said Donovan Dawson of Turck Technologies. “How we can use the same process in assembly of products. We’re solving problems.”

One problem the students had no problem solving? Science, Technology, Math and Engineering is a promising future and can be “fun” and “cool.”