There has been a lot in the news lately about improving STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and how to engage kids today in STEM.
The White House started its own initiative to improve STEM education with Change the Equation. Many have predicted a STEM talent gap in the US and note the underrepresentation of women and minorities in STEM fields (women hold nearly half the jobs in the US, but account for less than 25% of all the STEM jobs).
At Global Research, one of the things that we do to help get kids excited about STEM is to share our experiences and passion with students from the surrounding areas by introducing them to our diverse careers as technologists. Last week we had such an opportunity with a very special group of students—our own children!
On Friday, May 3rd GE Global Research hosted our annual event Bring your Child to Work Day. I was excited to be able to participate this year with my 11- year old stepson Alex, and expose him to the many different types of STEM careers here at GE.
After visiting the photo booth and getting our picture with Thomas Edison, the day’s events kicked off with 300+ kids doing some early morning calisthenics. Next up GE materials scientist, Chris Dosch demonstrated some materials properties to the kids using balloons, racquetballs, and liquid nitrogen. I am pretty sure every kid in that room now knows the boiling point of liquid nitrogen (-321°F, in case you are wondering). We even took home a piece of shattered racquetball souvenir so Alex could show his friends and tell them all about the demo.
Some of the highlights from the day include:
- Watching a Makerbot 3D printer make GE monograms (another souvenir).
- -A thermal image with IR camera of Alex (yet another souvenir).
- Watching the waterjet cut through pennies to make a smiley face. Did you know that the speed of the water jet is twice the speed of sound? I was told twice on the way home!
The best part of the day was watching how engaged Alex and the other kids were during the science demos. The words “that was the coolest thing I have ever seen” were uttered in leaving the CT demo (they were demonstrating CT slice technology on a piggy bank and a Darth Vadar Potato Head). For the older kids, there was even a STEM career round table where researchers at GE talked with students about what it is like to work in engineering/science at GE.
We live in a pretty rural area and this was really the first time Alex has ever been exposed to these kinds of science and computer demos. It was great for him to experience these technologies and learn about it from the technologists working in these areas. Maybe one day Alex will be designing the next CT machine or developing the next generation advanced manufacturing technology. Or maybe he will be a fireman like he says. Either way, it was refreshing to see his excitement around our technology and I hope that this experience will help him understand why I am so passionate about my career in STEM!
Check out the video below to hear from some of the little scientists that attended Take Your Child To Work Day!