UNION — They willingly spent part of their summer in school and not only spent time in the classroom learning how to build and program robots but also took a number of field trips including one to the Union County Airport where a local official gave them a flight demonstration.
For the past two years the STEM Club held at Sims Middle School has offered students the opportunity to learn about, build and program robots and then put them through their paces during the club’s graduation ceremony. This year’s STEM graduation was held Thursday, June 21 and 15 students were presented their certificates by Sims Principal Eric Childers and Union County School District Personnel Director Jeff Stribble.
The club was established to help the students involved avoid the “summer slide,” the problem of students falling back from the level of learning they achieved by the end of the previous school year and having to regain that level at the beginning of the new school year before they can advance to the next level. The robotics portion of the club was designed to make it more attractive to students and to help give them a greater understanding of the elements of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), particularly as they relate to the workplace of today and tomorrow. That involved not only working with the robots in the classroom, but also touring local industries where they learned first hand about real world impact of STEM.
Those tours included a visit to the Timken plant where some of the company’s engineers lead the tour so the students could see how STEM related to each of the jobs they saw being performed at the facility.
The tours also included a visit to the Union County Airport where the students were addressed by Union County Supervisor Frank Hart. Hart told the students about airport mechanical jobs. He also took the students to his personal plane where he made a presentation that included flying it into the air over the airport as they watched from the ground.
The students also traveled to the Town of Carlisle where they visited the Carlisle Fire Department and learned about being a volunteer firefighter and also met with Mayor Mary Ferguson-Glenn who spoke about the town. This part of the tour according to Upstate Workforce Board Executive Director Ann Angermeier was about teaching the students about community service and the importance of giving back to the community.
There was also a “hard hat tour” of the Union County Carnegie Library which is currently undergoing renovations. During their visit, the students got to see the new youth area of the library which will feature a teen room and study area which will have lots of video games, something Angermeir said the students were quite enthusiastic about.
The students also visited USC Union where they also learned about the eSports program that is currently under development.
Sounds like those young ladies and young gentlemen had a busy three weeks and that’s good, because while summer is a time for fun, it should not be a time for ignoring learning, especially when that learning can prepare young people for the future. The STEM Club is part of the educational process and, in helping students avoid the summer slide by providing them with fun and interesting learning opportunities, it gives them a boost that will not only help them when the new school year begins, but also help prepare for the day when school — but not learning itself — is over and they enter the adult world and begin making their way in that world. The STEM Club can help them make that way successfully and because of that is is a good way for a young person to spend at least part of their summer.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.