Teachers and students take on summer STEM programs

October 7, 2018

Youngstown Vindicator. This summer, more than a dozen youngsters developed their own transportation plan for the area, learning hands-on STEM lessons along the way.

Sara Daugherty, economic development program manager for Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, coordinated several July field trips for 13 area students through the Summer Manfacturing Institute, a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning pilot program for fourth- through sixth-grade students that launched in 2013 in Youngstown.

Daugherty also worked with students to develop a metropolitan transportation plan – and said she was surprised to find they took easily to the task.

Students wanted 13 miles of roadway, but only had a $10 million budget. Luckily, a mock voting populace passed a “hefty” transportation levy for the plan, agreeing to a $60 annual tax, she said.

“In general, they were just excellent at this,” Daugherty said. “It was interesting that concepts I have trouble explaining to adults [the kids] got right away.”

The field trips covered the scope of the transportation project process, from planning and development to technology to construction, she said.

Students visited Western Reserve Transit Authority to learn about public transportation route planning and dispatch; the Donnell Ford dealership in Boardman, to learn about emerging driver assistance technologies; a Beaver Township infrastructure project site, to see how transportation projects are built; and Youngstown State University, to learn about the university’s potential plans for Fifth Avenue, which could become the center of a state-backed pilot project to create driverless shuttle routes.

They were also visited by representatives from Path Master of Twinsburg, which develops connected vehicle technology.

Daugherty said the hands-on lessons are important for pupils, as most students develop their career choice aptitudes sometime between fourth and sixth grades.

Kristine Caporale, a Canfield Village Middle School science teacher, also participated in a professional development workshop on geology-related STEM lessons this past summer.

The free series, which trained teachers from 37 Ohio counties, was sponsored by the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program.

“I am all for getting more education for myself. I don’t need the credit. I don’t need the hours, but I like being able to educate myself so that I can pass that on to [the students],” Caporale said. “This is something I do just for myself and the kids.”

By Justin Dennis

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