Rockets to the Rescue

STEM Prep Summer Program People

STEM Prep Summer Program
The culmination of the Forsyth Tech Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Prep Summer Program was the Rocket Launch on Friday, Aug. 9. Four teams of four to five students competed in launching an air-powered cardboard rocket, using mathematical analyses of weight, force, thrust and aerodynamic forces.

“This week-long experience from Aug. 5-9 in STEM not only touched on a foundation of academic concepts for rocket building, but also gave 19 students opportunities to build relationships & visit STEM field industries in downtown Winston-Salem,” said STEM advisor/navigator Tandeka Boko.

The National Science Foundation along with the Forsyth Tech Foundation, provided support for this program for student populations defined as historically under-represented in STEM disciplines (URM STEM students). These include the following students: African-Americans, Alaskan Natives, American Indians, Hispanic Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Native Pacific Islanders. Participants included a majority of 11th and 12th grade high school students, along with one 10th grader and a few current STEM community college students.

Participants had a myriad of STEM experiences, including data analyses, microscopic analysis of Pond Water Biology Lab, coding in Python Technology Lab, introduction to Cybersecurity, performing Enzyme Catalysis experiments in Chemistry Lab, demonstration of Chromatography concepts and analysis technologies, and Science Skills Lab Measuring Techniques including pipetting.

Students also took a tour of the Biotech Lab of Forsyth Tech at Innovation Quarter, a tour of Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine, and had conversations with the Dean of College of Arts, Sciences, Business and Education at Winston-Salem State University, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and post-graduate students about applications of Math, Physics, Engineering, and Technology. Students also met and received information from Forsyth Tech’s Dean of the Center for Transformative Learning, Education Support Services and Equity, a Program Staff Assistant of Educational Partnerships and Community Engagement and, the Student Engagement Coordinator of Honor Societies.

The Rockinairs Company, the White team, won the bid for the purchase of their rocket. On day three, this team adjusted the weight and variables of their rocket and their rocket performance improved the most from the first launch of 19 feet to 90 feet (overshot of the 75-foot target) and then 77 feet, almost at the target. On Friday, this team hit the target on their first attempt! They worked together and made necessary adjustments for a successful launch. Members of the Rockinairs Company said the week was an “eye-opening, new experience.” One member also said, “I want to get a Master’s in those two Ps, Pharmacology and Physiology, so that I can work on muscle conditions.”

The Rocket Company, the Green team, won the award for the best sales pitch presentation. This team related their rocket to various math and physics concepts. Their presentation was precise with the variables in the launch. They worked together as a team in their presentation with each member contributing.

One of the members of STML, Inc, the Orange Team, said, “I have had a wonderful and refreshing experience. I have learned a great deal about STEM fields as well as Biomedical Engineering. Taking a tour through the Innovation Quarter gave me a broader concept of the kind work that can take place within STEM fields. I may very well consider Biomedical Engineering as my collegiate course of study.”
One member of the Cincos Company, the Pink Team, said, “I now know what I want to do. I want to get an MD-PhD.” Other members wrote the following, in their “Night Work” reflections, “I learned that even though you may have one milliliter in one graduated cylinder, that doesn’t mean it is exactly one milliliter in the pip-pet.” “Today in STEM Prep, I learned how to test for proteins and glucose in a urinalysis. If I were to become a scientist, I would definitely have to use it.”

STEM Prep staff included Math Coaches, Jeanie Clark, Matthew Reader, Dr. Gary Byrd and Dexter Morgan. Volunteer staff included STEM Student and FT Student Ambassador, Zabed Muriuki and STEM Fellow, Harmony Valiente. There was a great deal of preparatory support provided by the following Math, Science and Technology (MST) and, Business and Information Technologies (BIT) Division faculty and lab technicians: Ben Novak, Dr. Lucien Houenou, Thomas Brown, Samuel Dorsett, Dr. Jason Gagliano, Dr. Travis Russel, Rebecca Ober, Kelly Sassin and Dr. William Clodfelter.

Carol Wall-Brown, mother of participant Jackson Brown said, “The benefit of this program is that often under-represented minority students don’t have a clue there is a whole ocean of STEM opportunities for them. I appreciated this program offered to high school and community college students and hope this will be held again.”

Other comments from parent surveys included the following:

“I was thrilled at the excitement my son showed when I would pick him up and ask about his day and what he did and learned.”

“My son was exposed to different aspects of science and technology. He is excited about looking into a career whereby he can explore science, math and sports.”

“What I liked most about this program was the opportunity that you gave my child to have this experience. Our children need more exposure to programs like this. They really don’t know about these opportunities or these majors. Also, it gave my child the opportunity to see and meet kids that looked like him that are performing at a high level in school. Thanks for all that you do for our kids.”

Kids Jumping
Students in classroom