Robots, Dinosaurs, and the Solar System

STEM Education Conference attracts people of all ages

 

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Abbey Essenmacher, 9, and her sister Ella, 8, watch as Melissa Beery shows their sister Rosa, 5, different coloring sheets and the games that go with them.

Robot enthusiasts, dinosaur aficionados, and chemistry nerds felt right at home at the STEM educational conference held on Oct. 26 in SC4’s CEM building.

Workshops offered at the Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) education conference accommodated a wide range of interests.

The conference was split into three sessions from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Each session featured at least two workshops that were dubbed in the program as “kid friendly.”

In the astronomy workshop, Gross Point Schools teacher Walter Charuba, gave attendees of STEM a demonstration of the vastness of the solar system by laying out cards with different planets on them in the hallway. The number of steps between each note card was then scaled down distances between the planets. Despite being condensed, the entire demonstration would have required a longer hallway.

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Tony Richardson, 12, observes the cards he placed on the table that simulate the expenses for a trip to Mars in the Astronomy workshop.

Charuba normally shows these demonstrations to classrooms of kids to give them some perspective of the solar system. “When we take a walk they realize how tremendously big the solar system is” said Charuba.

While workshops like astronomy were filled primarily with adults, other workshops such as Metal and Soul Robotics’ demonstration were so flooded with parents and little ones there weren’t enough chairs to seat the whole room.

However attendees of the Metal and Soul workshop wouldn’t have to sit long, as they followed the children into the hallway where they caught Frisbees being shot out of a robot.

The robot used in the demonstration was built in six weeks with wheels on the bottom and a shooting mechanism on top. It could shoot Frisbees and various distances and speed, providing plenty of room for each child to get a chance at catching one.

The robotic demonstrations began with students and adults affiliated with the program providing information to parents and their kids, with the goal of encouraging future involvement.

According to the Capac students involved with Metal and Soul, the program helps with areas of education such as math, physics, and calculus.

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Gabriel Kenny, 5, hitches a ride with a Capac Robotics Team student while the robot pushes them down the hallway.

It also improves public speaking, and problem solving skills. “One of the benefits of this program is giving kids different things to look at.” said Metal and Soul mentor John Antilla.

While many of the workshops were demonstrations, others took a more informational approach. “Lions and Bears and Carp, Oh my!” by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) gave those who attended an overview of recent issues including pollution and controversy over Michigan’s wolf hunt. “They told us a lot of really interesting things and good things to know” Said STEM attendee Ann Gieche.

As the sessions wrapped up, those exiting SC4’s CEM building were happily conversing with their families about the event that accommodated a wide range of ages and interests. “I hope they do this again next year, and I really wish more people had come out,” Gieche said. “I just think they did an excellent job with the conference.”

 

Angie Stoecklin

Staff Writer

 

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