Southeast Tennessee Students Become STEM Leaders

Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Members of the STEM Student Council test their roller coaster model of the program kickoff event on Saturday
Members of the STEM Student Council test their roller coaster model of the program kickoff event on Saturday

STEM School Chattanooga was buzzing with activity this past weekend when 40 students from six counties across the region convened for the Southeast Tennessee STEM Student Council Kickoff event. Increasing educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) has been an important initiative among educators and employers in recent years as leaders work to prepare students for high demand jobs of the future.

Saturday’s event was filled with hands-on STEM activities, conversations with local STEM professionals and discussions about the students’ roles as STEM leaders. “The goal of the STEM Student Council is to give students the opportunity to take on leadership roles in STEM and learn skills they will use when they enter the workforce,” said Tracey Carisch, Managing Director of the Southeast Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub, the organization responsible for this and other STEM education programs throughout the region.  The application process required the students to write short essays on the role of STEM in addressing world problems and the STEM careers they intend to pursue. 

“Being a part of the STEM Student Council is opening my eyes to a whole new way of thinking,” said Madisen Buckner, a junior at McMinn County High School. Her classmate, Camila Rodriguez, also a junior at McMinn High School said, “This STEM Student Council is exposing me to STEM-based careers and helping me learn more about what STEM professionals do on a day-to-day basis in their work environment.”

Throughout their tenure on the council, these students will be challenged to think creatively and cultivate partnerships with local businesses. On Saturday, the STEM Hub’s Director of Learning, Keri Randolph, led the students through hands-on, engineering activities. Students used spaghetti and other materials to build towers and created roller coaster models out of pipe insulation. “The foundation of strong STEM education is problem-solving and collaboration,” said Randolph. “To prepare student for STEM careers, we need to give them opportunities to collaborate and develop solutions to problems. That’s exactly what these students will be doing during their time on this STEM Student Council.”

The STEM Innovation Hub staff will continuously support the students as they divide into team and conduct their own STEM projects. The local community of STEM professionals will also play an important role for the STEM Student Councilmembers. Each the student project team will be assigned one or two STEM Mentors. These volunteers from the STEM workforce will give their teams guidance, ideas and feedback as the student work on their projects throughout the year. Mary Lou Mangan-Lamb, a biostatistician at BlueCross BlueShield, attended Saturday’s event and will also serve as a STEM Mentor for one of the student teams. “I was very impressed by the students’ thought-provoking and relevant questions during our discussion on Saturday,” she said. “I am really looking forward to working with these young people in the coming months.”

STEM Mentors and their STEM Student Council teams will begin working together this week. Both students and professionals are preparing to learn from one another. “I think it’s really neat that we get to do these projects and work with kids from other schools,” said McKenzie Weigert, a junior at Signal Mountain Middle High School. Her team’s project will focus on providing fun, hands-on educational experiences for young children to inspire more kids to get involved in STEM.

“We are looking forward to the year ahead,” said Keri Randolph of the STEM Hub. “I think we will all be blown away by what these young people are able to accomplish together this year."

STEM Student Council members talk with Gemree Fe de Leon, a communications engineer an UNUM
STEM Student Council members talk with Gemree Fe de Leon, a communications engineer an UNUM

GNTC Names Semi-Finalists For 2017 GOAL Award

Four Georgia Northwestern Technical College students have been selected as the college’s semi-finalists for the Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL), according to Dione Waddington, coordinator for the college’s GOAL program.   Listed are students chosen as semi-finalists for the GOAL award showing (left to right) the student’s name, hometown, program of study, ... (click for more)

Senator Alexander Gives Statement On Education Department’s Withdrawal Of Proposed Supplement-Not-Supplant Regulation

Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander on Wednesday issued the following statement after the Department of Education withdrew its proposed regulation on Supplement-Not-Supplant: “I am glad the Education Department has listened to Congress and has chosen not to move forward with its proposed 'supplement-not-supplant' regulation. This proposal would have dictated ... (click for more)

School Board Turns Thumbs Down To Proposed Funding Of Central Track

County school board members on Thursday night expressed a number of concerns about a proposed $500,000 new track under consideration for funding by the County Commission at Central High School. The vote was 9-0 to table a motion to accept the money (if offered). Karitsa Mosley-Jones said, "We've got students at schools on a high priority list and you're going to give me a track?" ... (click for more)

School Board Approves 4-Year Contract Extension With Independent Bus Drivers, Who Say They Can Handle 100 Routes; Extension Given On Custodial Contract

The county school board on Thursday night extended the contract by four years of school bus owner operators, who said they could deliver on 100 bus routes. The board delayed until a special meeting at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at Central High School the issue of whether to accept the offer of 100 contract routes. That would be handled by many of the current 49 owner operators taking ... (click for more)

Bikers Need To Have Licenses And Insurance - And Response

I am okay with Haslam’s idea of raising the gas tax and lowering the food tax.  But, I want to see a tax of bicycles since they have their own lanes now and they also have to be maintained. How much revenue would that bring in?  I would think if we have enough bike riders to have the lanes in the first place, there must be enough to generate some money for road improvements. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Where Is Central’s Auditorium?

I am surely one of the biggest proponents of high school athletics there is, especially after half a decade of being an eye witness to the vast array of lessons that are learned every day by anyone associated with sports. That said, I have watched the Hamilton County Commission waffle on a $500,000 track at Central High School with a certain curiosity because the same high school ... (click for more)