Studies continue to point to a significant gap in competency when K-12 students in the U.S. are compared to their peers in other countries in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Research also indicates the lack of proficiency in STEM education is even greater in Michigan.
In 2009, Michigan fourth- grade students ranked 38 out of 51 states (including D.C.) in national math test scores according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In 2011, the percentage of students in Michigan who performed at or above the National Assessment of Educational Progress Proficient level in math and science was only 35 percent.
Statistics like these and many others, along with a sharp focus on education and training for STEM-related careers, has sparked a series of new and innovative programs for pre-college students at Macomb Community College to expose them to engaging STEM educational experiences while demonstrating the great potential of science and technology careers.
Beginning later this month, Macomb is participating in a first-of-its-kind summer education program for elementary and middle school students. Through its Center for Advanced Automotive Technology (CAAT) and its College 4 Kids program, Macomb is presenting the bulk of academic-based offerings for Velocity Jr., a new STEM-focused summer camp featuring fun, hands-on learning projects at Michigan’s first dedicated STEM education center in Sterling Heights.
As part of Velocity Jr., Macomb is providing five one-week courses for kindergarten through eight-grade students in the areas of industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, robotics and math.
• Lego Fun-gineering, building advanced machines using Legos
• Roamer the Robot, programming a robot to navigate an obstacle course and other challenges
• Electric Vehicle Bumps and Jumps, engineering electric model cars including design and build, while learning more about alternative energies
“Our ongoing interaction with industry indicates that we need to expose area youth to STEM-related careers today in order for them to be prepared to compete for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Joe Petrosky, dean of engineering and advanced technology, Macomb Community College. “Our strategy for encouraging young people down this path is simple: spark interest when students are young by providing fun, exciting and interactive learning opportunities that demystify science, math and technology and illustrate the potential of careers in advanced manufacturing and technical fields.”
As part of its goal to cultivate the emerging advanced automotive technology industry by preparing students for future careers in this field, Macomb’s CAAT, is sponsoring this unique summer education program by providing the full funding for Macomb’s courses offered including supplies, lunches and t-shirts for the students.
The Velocity Jr. Summer program begins the third week of June. Call 586. 797.6900 or email email@example.com for more information.
Macomb also created an innovative pilot program to introduce STEM concepts to pre-K students through a collaboration of students and faculty in its science and early childhood studies programs. Since April, the college has hosted a series of “Physics Playground” events for Head Start, Great Start Readiness and Macomb Intermediate Schools preschoolers designed to teach essential concepts of the physical sciences.
“There are some staggering statistics that place Michigan’s elementary students toward the bottom of the pack nationally in the areas of science and math,” said Kate Cole, faculty, early childhood studies at Macomb. “We believe that if these important concepts are introduced at an early age in developmentally appropriate ways, we can jump start our children’s exploration into the important fields of science, math and technology.”
The program involves a series of fun experiments such as testing buoyancy of various objects in water and exploring the forces of sound through vibrations.
Supporting learning materials for preschool instructors were also developed to reinforce in the classroom the concepts learned in the playground experiments. To date, more than 300 children have attended these events along with parents and educators.
For the past few years, Macomb has also hosted Robotics, Engineering and Technology (RET) Days, an event designed to excite and interest high school students in technical careers. Cosponsored by U.S. Army TACOM and Utica Schools, the 2 ½- day event engages high school students from the region in activities such as building, programming and controlling robotic systems and vehicles, and illustrates career opportunities and their educational pathways.
Last year more than 1,600 students attended, with some coming from as far away as Genesee County. The 2012 RET Days are scheduled for the first week of December this year at the Sports & Expo Center at Macomb’s South Campus in Warren.
“To have a real impact, collaboration is essential, and Macomb has embraced partnership to develop and present nearly all of our youth-focused STEM-related programs,” said Petrosky. “From Macomb Community College’s perspective, building interest and proficiency in STEM-related education is vital to enhancing sustainable job opportunities and promoting long-term, positive economic growth.”
About Macomb Community College
Macomb Community College (www.macomb.edu) is one of the nation’s leading community colleges, providing learning experiences to more than 50,000 students annually. Macomb nationally ranks in the top two percent in the number of associate degrees awarded and as the largest grantor of associate degrees in Michigan. The college’s comprehensive educational programming includes pre-collegiate experiences, university transfer and career preparation programs, bachelor degree completion and graduate degree programs, workforce training, professional education and certification, and continuing education and enrichment opportunities.
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