⇒A STEM System⇐
Student #1 – Wanda Welto Wanda Welto, a student in STEM 3 at Stemeter High School, is a mechanically inclined, outstanding junior from a family with a strong work ethic and a father with great skills for maintaining physical devices. Over the previous summer, she overhauled the motor of an antique and now reliable 2018 Jeep. She has been unable to determine if she wants to pursue a college major in physics or mechanical engineering. Wanda awakened at 4:30 AM Monday morning considering the STEM borax production problem her team was addressing as a Student Project. As the most experienced student on the team and recognized by her peers as a thoughtful and reliable person, Wanda had been accepted readily as the team leader. Dr. Catexpert, the project’s STEM Catalyst is a chemist at a small chemical company that produces specialty inorganic compounds.
⇒A STEM System⇐
The Student Team had now arrived at the point of considering two possible and very different methods for producing the finely divided and highly soluble borax crystals expected by potential customers. Dr. Catexpert had made an appointment to be available for questions during the STEM class on Tuesday. Today (Monday), the team needed to determine the exact questions they wanted to ask about typical production techniques for crystalline solids that would enable them to do a final experimentation step. Then, they would do some engineering analysis and recommend a process system to complete the final report on the project. As Wanda thought about the information they had or could calculate, she realized that one key question had to be answered about the energy requirements for crushing large crystals into the fine powder needed. The team had no way of getting that information either experimentally or from any literature source they had explored. Hopefully, Dr. Catexpert would lead them to the appropriate information or make a reasonable estimate from which they could proceed. Wanda realized that Freddy Freshie had not indicated much understanding of ratios during the last team discussion about their problem. Since her evaluation (grade) depended in part on Freddy’s performance, she decided to help him with ratios during a study hall. If that did not work, she would ask one of the STEM Teaching Team members to work on Freddy’s problem. Wanda believed that Freddy was starting to accept that some of the math he had ignored in earlier grades could be useful and that he needed to learn about ratios now. Otherwise, the STEM Teaching Team would identify his “ratio” skill deficit again later and address it – and again, and again until he developed some applications skill with that topic of math.
⇒A STEM System⇐
On the way to school, Wanda began considering team member assignments and deadlines for writing the final report. She would have the job of ensuring the report covered all the necessary parts of the Student Project coherently. Each team member would be required to read the report and “sign-off” on it.
Wanda decided that she would ask Dr. Catexpert a couple of questions about mechanical engineering careers during their virtual meeting tomorrow. STEM was enabling her to address several important matters like careers and people management in addition to learning about STEM concepts and problemsolving.