Friday, April 1, 2022
Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,
“Planting the seed.”
The late Fred Kummer had three mandates for us when he and June bestowed their transformative gift on Missouri S&T. Paramount on his and June’s minds was the role of universities in fostering interest in higher education in general, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics, STEM, education and outreach in particular. In my many interactions with Fred, he repeatedly and emphatically spoke of STEM education “in all its forms.”
“…to create and maintain a healthy economy, to foster innovation and excellence, and to be competitive in the global arena, any advanced society must develop the STEM skills of its youth.” June, a terrific architect, is also passionate about the intersection of art, industrial design and STEM. Often the topic of discussion with the Kummers was how to attract and encourage “the young kids” to better understand science and engineering. As Fred would say, “no age is too young to begin to plant the seed.”
In fact, I remember how my second-grade teacher cultivated curiosity and childlike wonder in my class by using her “capital identifier.” A small lightbulb on the top of a notebook-sized board lit up when two wire leads would touch the corresponding names of a country and its capital. It was magic! Of course, we didn’t know that she had wired up the back of the board appropriately. At first, she would only tell us about batteries, electricity and “closing a circuit,” which left us even more puzzled. By that summer, we had unveiled the magic and we had each assembled our own capital identifiers! The indelible, hands-on, teachable experience planted the seed for me.
To answer Fred and June’s call and to plant the seed, here at S&T we have significantly enhanced our life-changing, career-setting summer camps. Our participants are 5th- to 12th-graders who will build robots, compete in design competitions, launch rockets, build flying cars, set off their own fireworks display and much more. They will have the opportunity to ask questions of world-class instructors and, in the process, become motivated, develop unique SKAs (skills, knowledge and abilities) and apply what they learn. Perhaps most importantly, they will learn how to perform in a team environment, share ideas and gain confidence in their abilities.
Currently, we are offering 15 camp sessions covering 10 topic areas this summer. These are in-person, overnight STEM camps on the S&T campus in Rolla. This gives campers a glimpse of the college experience. They will meet like-minded peers, engage with expert faculty and staff, stay in a residential hall, and explore our facilities and labs.
We’re ready to welcome up to 700 students. Our most popular camp is the Jackling Introduction to Engineering. Named after the famous miner and alumnus Daniel Jackling, the camp introduces students to 17 engineering and computer programs at S&T.
Alexis Keller, a mining engineering student from Barnhart, Missouri, attended three summer camps here and discovered that our university – and a STEM education – was right for her.
“I would definitely say that all three camps highly influenced my decision in coming to school at Missouri S&T,” she says. “Once I came to each camp here it just furthered my interest in different types of engineering and Jackling Intro actually even helped me decide on my major.”
In the process of “planting the seed,” our summer camps will invoke curiosity, encourage the “why,” the “what,” and the “how,” and catalytically bring together potential and opportunity. Our hopes are that our camps become the indelible, hands-on, teachable experiences that will plant the seed.
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