Even with COVID-19 wreaking havoc across the globe and our countries racked with healthcare and safety consequences, the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Honors Program at Stony Brook University (SBU) developed a unique, remote, yet hands-on STEM opportunity for middle school students this summer. WISE teamed up with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and the iCREATE program to provide Long Island middle school students a virtual platform to express their inner engineer and STEM creativity from the comfort of their own homes. The goal of this outreach was to provide students with hands-on STEM experiences and motivate them to learn and be informed about different STEM careers.
During the program, students attended five virtual lessons on Engineering (ECE) and two on Inventing (iCREATE). Faculty, staff and graduate students from SBU worked together to promote women in STEM during this pilot virtual Engineering/Inventing Summer Camp. Students were mailed materials needed for the hands-on activities in advance.
In the first five sessions students were introduced to engineering, programming, mathematics and material sciences. On the first day, the students learned how geometry and art are integrated by using TinkerCAD to design a light pendant. Inspired by helping the coronavirus frontline workers, students designed adjustable 3D mask holders to help reduce the pain and pressure of wearing a mask on the ear for a long time. On the second day, they were introduced to circuitry and conductivity. While learning how to read resistor values, the students built their Light Emitting Diode (LED) circuit. On the third and fourth days, students learned about integrated circuits and programming and designed a smart street light and smart phone screen light. On the last day of the Engineering component, students were introduced to different material sciences topics and conducted an activity to learn about materials and heat conductivity.
“I am very happy that we were able to offer an opportunity for the students to learn about the engineering design process and to demonstrate how engineers think and solve problems. In this challenging time for everyone, our camp used best practices for remote learning to generate interest and excitement and will hopefully encourage some of our young campers to pursue engineering as a career choice,” said Kathleen Dinota, Engineering Education Project Coordinator.
At the iCREATE’s Inventor sessions, students were introduced to innovation, conceptualization and design through projects that utilized Python A-Frame, Autodesk Fusion 360, 3D Printing and DIY project. Through these activities participants were able to create a snowman on Python and make a name tag on Fusion 360. iCREATE also organized a DIY project that aimed to relieve stress in today’s unprecedented times. This was the first time that iCREATE held a program entirely online, which was a learning experience for all. David Ecker, Director of iCREATE, said, “iCREATE staff participated in the summer WISE program, which was a complete success! We introduced a group of young girls to innovative technologies through Zoom. Even though we were remote, we were able to provide a collaborative environment where students had lots of questions on 3D design, which demonstrated to me, this group was inspired to create.”
“This unique program has allowed many students to continue being engaged in their passion for STEM and engineering, even through this different and challenging new way of instruction. We are committed to continue with our mission of educating and providing opportunity in STEM now more than ever,” said Mónica Bugallo, ECE Professor, Associate Dean for Diversity and Outreach in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Faculty Director of WISE.
The WISE virtual camp gave the students a broader picture of the different and wide-ranging careers that manifest themselves in real-life opportunities; meeting professionals in STEM fields may facilitate students’ interest in pursuing such a path.
— Zahraa Krayem, WISE Graduate Assistant