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Engaging K-12 in STEM

June 9, 2011

Nowadays, I wish that my high school had had a robotics team while I was there – instead one formed shortly after I graduated. From the other side of engineering school, I can see how that would have been a huge advantage in my preparation for college.

However, it’s hard to say if I would have been in the robotics club, even if it had been available. Most of my extra-curricular interests have been just as driven by social motivation as academic. In high school, I played violin and was the president of the GSA. Both of these activities centered around my interests and as a result, the social group I hung out with. In college, this trend became even more pronounced. I was heavily involved in Open (the campus queer club) and the Human Powered Vehicle Team – these clubs formed the basis of who I was friends with, where I lived in the dorm, how I spent my free time. To be honest, I probably would have only joined the robotics team in high school if my friends did too.

Or perhaps the robotics club would have determined who I was friends with? It’s unclear.

In any case, there is something to be said for making STEM cool and/or relevant to disparate groups of people. I think robotics is such a broad subject that it’s easy to appeal to everyone.

But why stop there? It’s so easy to embed engineering in everything.

And those are just the easy examples I could think of off the top of my head.

But maybe it doesn’t matter if today’s youth get involved in STEM. In any case, I think STEM fields give students the most options later in life and are good training for any career.

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