STEM Day: Inspiring Future Engineers

ACEC/MW was excited to work with middle schoolers at Key Middle School in Springfield, VA for our first STEM Day.

ACEC/MW entered a new era sparking excitement with the next generation of engineers, holding our first ever STEM event at Key Middle School in Springfield, Virginia! 
This is the start of a great new chapter for ACEC/MW, allowing us to give back to our community in a novel way and inspire a new generation of engineers. Working closely with Assistant Principal Shawn Brown, a group of 50 students assembled eagerly to learn about engineering in a two-hour event held after school. Pulling this event off took months of planning to brainstorm and research ideas for activities. The STEM task force decided to have the students explore structural engineering by building popsicle stick bridges and weighing them to failure in what became a competitive and boisterous end to our afternoon. Ten teams of five students each worked with ACEC/MW volunteer engineers and middle school teacher/administrators. The top bridge held over 40 pounds of weight before failing. The top three teams were awarded prizes for holding the most weight. Students were engaged and competitive, watching with intrigue and angst as their bridges were being loaded with weights. 
We want to thank Keith Foxx for his leadership and inspiration, as well as pioneering the idea with Key Middle School and setting the stage for this successful start to our STEM program. We also had an amazing task force group that planned and executed the event, along with so many wonderful volunteers who showed up enthusiastically for the afternoon and jumped into action to lead the students through the bridge design and construction. Each volunteer arrived passionate, flexible, and ready to serve as great role models for the students. Volunteers were asked to learn on the fly and did a wonderful job working together and leading the students through the bridge building. The excitement, especially in those crazy last few minutes, was palpable.
Over 50 students served, and here's to many more in future events!!!


Note from Keith Foxx, ACEC/MW Board Chair (Principal of FOXXSTEM):
Special thanks to Erin Donovan for spending months organizing the event itself, Paquilla Jones for building a test bridge the night before the event, Sonali Ambre for doing the early extensive research on potential activities and coming prepared with a second activity, Jim Hoffman for initiating the ACEC/MW STEM Task Force, Mac Cannon for ordering the t-shirts, Kyle Urda for designing the t-shirts and bringing dumbbells that were key to testing the bridges to failure, and Leo Dumond for giving the students a small speech about what is engineering and how is it applied to everything we enjoy in the built space. To our volunteers, we know that there were many individual acts of positive, motivational encouragement, and we appreciate every single one of you.  If we've inspired even one student to pursue a future in engineering, then we've done our jobs well!


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