Baylor Delivers National STEM Day Science Projects to Waco ISD Students Through Partnership with Transformation Waco
- Vincent Leung, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Baylor University School of Engineering and Computer Science. (Robert Rogers/Baylor University)
- Linda Olafsen, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Baylor University's School of Engineering and Computer Science. (Robert Rogers/Baylor University)
Baylor’s Office of the Vice Provost for Research, students from the School of Engineering and Computer Science deliver projects to five local schools to bring research impacts to the community
By Derek Smith, Baylor University Marketing & Communications
WACO, Texas (Nov. 7, 2022) – For National STEM Day, Baylor University is starting a new outreach project, which provides teachers, families and students with do-it-yourself projects designed to make science, technology, engineering and math come alive. A circuit-light project launches this week in five Waco Independent School District (ISD) schools. 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.
National STEM Day is an annual day of recognition each Nov. 8, designed to encourage participation in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. The day provides an opportunity for schools and organizations to illuminate STEM opportunities and spark interest among students through projects and activities.
In partnership with Transformation Waco and with help from faculty and students in Baylor’s School of Engineering and Computer Science, Baylor will deliver the projects to help students celebrate National STEM Day in 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 Stacey Smith, Ph.D., Assistant Vice Provost for Research—Research Development in Baylor’s Office of the Vice Provost for Research (OVPR). “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.”
Smith leads Research Impacts within Baylor OVPR, with a mission to help Baylor faculty maximize the impact of their research by planning, executing and evaluating activities that take their discoveries beyond the scientific community and into society at large. Many national funding agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), require outreach activities that communicate the importance of the work to broad audiences throughout the community. Baylor Research Impact efforts will support those efforts and help make faculty grant proposals more competitive in that area, while also focusing on independent projects for community benefit.
In this instance, Baylor is providing free kits to teachers at the five partner schools. The kits contain custom cards with Baylor imagery, designed to support the project and for students to color afterwards. Students will create their own circuit to illuminate a light diode using a battery and copper tape. The project, appropriate for fourth graders and up, will help students create and problem-solve to illuminate the card through building a circuit. 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, will visit select classrooms, supporting teachers during the project and interacting 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 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.”
Transformation Waco (TW) is the nonprofit, in-district charter partnership managing and operating five Waco ISD schools. Its community schools model treats campuses as neighborhood hubs that bring together academics, youth development, and family and community engagement with an infusion of wraparound health and social services, with a mission to educate all students in TW by providing excellent data-driven instruction and holistic student support. In addition to committed educators and supportive families, TW is powered by 115 community partnerships.
Baylor’s Office of External Affairs with Marketing and Communications facilitated the National STEM Day partnership.
STEM experiences beyond Waco ISD
In addition to use in schools, the project is available for parents and teachers to download and use. To help their students create their circuit, parents will need simple items found at home like tape, pencils and crayons or colored markers, and a few inexpensive items available online or through craft and hardware stores: copper tape, a light diode and a CR2032 coin battery.
A demonstration video and instructions are available online, and parents and teachers can print the cards and get the needed items to enable their children to do the projects in classrooms or at home. Additionally, each project features a “Meet the Scientist” video with the first featuring Leung and his research.
“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 so everyone can participate—and for the students, it’s a project they’re not merely watching but doing themselves.
“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.”
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.
ABOUT THE SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING AND COMPUTER SCIENCE AT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor’s School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) has been preparing its students for more than 25 years as innovators for worldwide impact by training graduates for professional practice and responsible leadership with a Christian view. Students can choose from majors including bioinformatics, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, general engineering and mechanical engineering. ECS also offers graduate programs in all areas of study within the School. We stand out from the crowd through Christian commitment, a strong community, expert accessibility, leading practical experience and teamwork. Visit baylor.edu/ecs to learn more and follow on Facebook at facebook.com/BaylorECS and on Instagram at @Baylor_ECS.