Students make a splash with STEM!

Individuals from Alpena, Alcona and Iosco counties came together with a splash in Harrisville for the STEM Community Days, August 13 – 15, 2014.

Youth at the STEM Community Days improved critical thinking skills and explored career opportunities. Photo credit: Tracy D'Augustino | MSU Extension

Youth at the STEM Community Days improved critical thinking skills and explored career opportunities. Photo credit: Tracy D'Augustino | MSU Extension

Individuals from Alpena, Alcona and Iosco counties came together with a splash in Harrisville for the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Community Days, August 13 – 15, 2014. Through the exploration of STEM, youth and adults improve their critical thinking skills and increase their opportunities for their future. 

Featured at the event were underwater ROVs (remotely operated vehicles), which exposed youth to the Alpena Community College (ACC) and their Marine Technology program that is opening new career pathways in northeast Michigan. Members of the community from all age groups explored a variety of underwater ROVs supplied by ACC – Marine Technology program, as well as the NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (TBNMS), Alcona   4-H and Oscoda middle school. 

The Alcona 4-H Student Stewards worked in partnership with the TBNMS, ACC, Alcona County 4-H and Oscoda Middle School to bring the three exciting days of STEM exploration and underwater ROV opportunities to northeast Michigan. Each day had a slightly different focus, as participants explored underwater ROVs at their own pace.

The first day, participants developed a general understanding of thrust as they built a basic fan boat. Ideas were explored, engineered and tested as many of the fan boats morphed into unique watercrafts. The second day the community explored buoyancy as they built Coat Hanger Underwater ROVs, which were tested and modified. The final day introduced some basic wiring concepts as participants had the opportunity to solder a “Blinky Robot,” which consisted of connecting resistors, LEDs, capacitors and a switch to a circuit board and resulted in the LEDs blinking when the switch was turned on.

Across the three days, the items which drew the greatest interest were the underwater ROVs supplied by ACC and the TBNMS. Participants practiced driving ROVs in the drop tank or headed indoors to drive the ROV simulator. Many of the youth shared that they enjoyed the ROV in a bag kits, which were made available through the TBNMS. The kits contain the PVC and wiring harness with thrusters needed to build a basic underwater ROV. TBNMS also provided a box of extra PVC which was used to modify the basic frame. Participants assembled and reassembled a variety of frames, testing each in the drop tank before modifying their ROV to form a variety of sizes and shapes for the underwater ROVs.

The STEM Community Days were made possible through the networking of the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative and was funded through a grant the 4-H Student Stewards received from the Straits Hub of the Michigan STEM Partnership. As a result of the event, both youth and adult attendees of the Community Days increased their critical thinking skills while being exposed to emerging STEM careers.

To learn more about the ways 4-H youth can explore STEM fields, visit the Michigan State University Extension Science & Technology page.

Related Events

Related Articles

Related Resources