Federal partners provide STEM opportunities to inner-city students
By Romanda Walker
St. Louis District
CARLYLE, Ill. — Thirty-four students from Madison Accelerated High School in Madison, Ill., traveled to Carlyle Lake May 8, 2012 to try their hand at fishing, canoeing, boating, and geocaching as a culmination to this year's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Outreach Program hosted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis District and the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River.
The 11th- and 12th-grade students also learned critical survival skills and the do's and don'ts of exercise and fitness. For many of the students, the day marked their first time experiencing several of the events.
"The excitement the students brought to our STEM events this year has been amazing," Brandon Hansen, USCG, said. "It was a great way to end the year with new and exciting activities for them."
The students have participated in the joint outreach program for the last eight months, welcoming members from the Corps and Coast Guard into the classroom to lead hands-on activities that enhanced the science, engineering and math concepts specific to school's geographic location.
Located in the Metro East, the school's close proximity to the Mississippi River, the third largest watershed in the world, made the federal partnership's mission dual-fold.
Partners on the river, the two organizations also worked to educate the students on the importance of sustaining the watershed and the navigation channel, which brings more than 58 million tons of cargo between Minneapolis-St. Paul and St. Louis every year.
Through the outreach program, the students had the opportunity to build and better understand structures such as levees, river training structures, watercraft and building designs, and understand the concepts of buoyancy, environmental stewardship, naval architecture and mechanical engineering. The students also toured the Coast Guard Aids to Navigation facility, response boats house, and the Corps' Applied River Engineering Center and Melvin Price Lock and Dam.
Educating students in STEM-related concepts and career fields is a passion held by both the Corps and Coast Guard commanders.
"As an engineer, I know how important science, technology, engineering and math are to the development of our country," Col. Chris Hall, St. Louis District commander, said. "They are critical to our future."