In the Boulder Creek elementary class, which was full of middle school students, Liam Bourget just sat and painted with gray, lego-shaped blocks.
A four-legged robot was relaxing in front of him. Bourget likes that passion when he creates something that would not exist without him, he said. The robot he builds will be remote controlled and mobile.
Bourget is the son of a third-grade student and an eighth-grade teacher at Boulder Creek Elementary. While she waits for her mother to finish her degree after school, she joins the STEM / Engineering Club on Wednesday, the only elementary student in the middle of the middle school.
Wayne Randolph, an eighth-grade math teacher and club advisor, said that although the club is for middle school students, he does not exclude students who are interested in STEM projects.
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Randolph started the club nine years ago and also teaches it as an option. He gives students the opportunity to experience construction projects – such as bottle rockets, catapults, robots – with hands-on, creative activities to allow students to explore their talents, he said.
Students are proud of their inventions
Randolph said he creates an open, flexible environment where students can push themselves but feel comfortable laughing with friends, hanging out with classmates, or just working. Some of his students, such as eighth-grader McKinney Pohrman, are involved in other extracurricular activities.
Pohrman has been with the club since the sixth grade. She is a tennis player and student leadership member, but after school on Wednesday, she is an eighth-grade engineer who hates math.
Despite her aversion to mathematics, Pohrman said she loves working with her hands. She said her favorite invention was to build a bottle rocket, and to continue research into her area, she will be doing engineering at Futel High School next year.
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Participating in such projects at school is an important way to prepare students for expanding their professional field, said Margaret Choi, former teacher and marketing manager at CodeWizardsHQ, an online coding school for children and adolescents.
Choi said STEM projects and coding help students develop “things like problem solving, analytical skills, computer thinking, where they can participate in any profession or college.”
In the United States, 3.5 million STEM jobs are projected by 2025, and 2 million of these jobs will not be completed. She said students can learn basic coding and construction skills through a number of ways.
For example, like STEM / Engineering Club, where students create special projects like Lego robots, and simple, but innovative items, such as water rockets, coding classes, daily video games like Roblox. And uses Minecraft to learn coding.
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Once children understand the language, they can create online virtual worlds, just as they create things in the classroom.
Students like Bourgeois, whose father makes robots that have tasks such as watering plants, may be inspired at home. But other kids who don’t have that contact can only discover the spark if they’re confronted with projects and given the opportunity to try, Randolph said.
Laila Miller, an eighth-grader who is part of the club, said she has many fun construction projects. He will not take engineering in high school because he is very interested in learning a new language, Spanish.
However, staying in STEM helped her develop soft skills that she did not expect. She said she should be a better leader and better organizer in the outcome of projects.
Nida Atiyah is a member of the U.S. Corps and an education reporter reporting on the trauma of childhood and the achievement gap for Reading Record Search Light. Follow her on Twitter nadatieh_RS. Contribute to the development of local journalism by participating today! And if you qualify, please consider a tax deduction for her work..