Bright Minds at Work

National STEM Day

National STEM Day, a day annually recognized on Nov. 8, encourages schools and organizations to illuminate STEM opportunities and spark interest among young students through projects and activities. To celebrate, Baylor implemented a new outreach project that provided teachers, families and students with do-it-yourself projects designed to make science, technology, engineering and math come alive. 

Baylor, in partnership with Transformation Waco and with help from faculty and students in Baylor’s School of Engineering and Computer Science, delivered a circuit-light project to five Waco schools: Alta Vista Elementary, Brook Avenue Elementary, J.H. Hines Elementary, G.W. Carver Middle School and Indian Spring Middle School.

“Baylor University wants to ensure that we’re helping raise up a community of students interested in science, technology engineering and math, and to promote a diverse STEM workforce,” said Assistant Vice Provost for Research Stacey Smith, Ph.D. “We’re excited to bring a hands-on activity to Waco ISD through our partnership with Transformation Waco and to present it online for anyone to download and participate with a few easy-to-find accessories.”

In this instance, Baylor provided free kits to teachers at the five partner schools. The kits contained all the elements necessary for students to create their own circuit that illuminates a light diode using a battery and copper tape. With a successful circuit, the light diode illuminates on the front of a custom card with Baylor imagery that students can color afterwards. The project, appropriate for fourth graders and up, encouraged students to create and problem-solve through tactile learning. 

Faculty from Baylor’s School of Engineering and Computer Science — Vincent Leung, Ph.D., and Linda Olafsen, Ph.D., associate professors of electrical and computer engineering — visited select classrooms to support teachers during the project and interact with students.

“I’m thankful for the strong connections with Baylor University and their support of our efforts to create customized student experiences,” Transformation Waco CEO Robin McDurham, M.S.Ed. ’03, said. “Our students need learning opportunities that capture their curiosity and interest. The Office of the Vice Provost for Research’s science project is a terrific and fun way to spark our students’ passion for STEM.”

Aligned to state educational standards, the project also is available for download for families to try at home or teachers beyond Waco to incorporate in the classroom.

“As a former educator, I know how hard it can be to find cool hands-on activities that are aligned to state standards and meet those needs within the scope of the work teachers have to do,” Smith said. “It was important for us to make this project downloadable to maximize accessibility so everyone can participate.

“We’re excited to launch this project for National STEM Day, and we look forward to growing research impacts partnerships with Baylor faculty and throughout the community in the years ahead.”