Increasing Minorities Representation in STEM Field
Overview of iNviTECH
iNviTECH is an educational curriculum program with a focus on STEM and entrepreneurship. We are committed to increasing the number of minorities represented
in STEM fields and STEM-based entrepreneurship. Our summer camps, after school programs and Explorer Posts, have been uniquely designed to engage,
educate and encourage students to accomplish this goal. According to the US Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration, STEM occupations
are projected to grow by 17.0 percent from 2008 to 2018, compared to 9.8 percent growth for non-STEM occupations.
This summer our iNviTECH STEMgineers were engaged in the process of developing wearable
devices to monitor health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. The students also focused on 21st-century skills such as writing, public speaking,
collaboration and critical thinking skills.
Each morning students met with their teams and discussed what they could improve from the previous day. Students were allowed to choose their teams to
encourage teamwork and less confrontation. This encouraged students to identify problems with their teams and develop solutions to solve their problems.
Collaboration/teamwork is a huge concept for students to master. Students must learn how to be flexible, share ideas and include the voices of everyone
their group for the final presentation. This will help to be the most productive when collaborating with teams in the future. At the conclusion of
the team debriefing, the students were asked to report out their findings. Practice makes perfect!
In addition to sharing their team goals each morning, students were charged with the task of preparing pitches for their potential investors. They were
given several opportunities to pitch their business plan to the camp counselors and other teams before their presentation. We were able to help students
think through some of their ideas to strengthen their business plans. This was excellent for our STEMgineers. Feedback is always a gift! Our goal at
iNviTECH is to provide students with various activities to speak in front of the peers. Here at iNviTECH, we know that the more opportunities you’re
given to practice, the faster you will perfect you skill. We want our students to be confident, knowledge and speak with clarity when public speaking.
After completing research about their specific health conditions, students began to implement the engineering design process (W.E.A.R.). Students were
asked to work with the teams to sketch out their designs for the wearable device. Students were asked to consider placement of the wearable device, sensors being used how the wearable device would function. The sensors
and microcontroller are sewed on the fabric with using conductive threading. The students had to plan and use their critical thinking skills to ensure
that the connections did not cross. The students learned that we never want a positive and negative charge to touch. Here students were provided with
an opportunity to learn the basics of electrical engineering.
After sketching their ideas, students used Google Sketch-Up to make 3D models of their wearable devices. They printed models of their wearable devices
at the Fab Lab at NCCU.
Students learned how to program their wearable device according to the function of their sensors. They were challenged in this endeavor because everything
must be defined and written properly in their programming. I was truly impressed with the programs created by our iNviTECH STEMgineers. They were focused
and dedicated to writing the perfect code for their wearable devices.
Critical thinking and problem solving are essential skills needed in order to pursue a STEM career. We have provided our iNviTECH STEMgineers with the
tools to begin their growth in these two areas. We hope that they continue to develop these skills as they continue their educational journey.
Each day, I was able to see the students’ wearable devices and teamwork improve tremendously. The students were elated as they completed the design of
their wearable devices. It was my privilege to see the light bulbs, student excitement and student engagement throughout each day of the camp.
Fab Lab at NCCU
Students rode public transportation to their field trip at the Fab Lab. The
Fab Lab is located on the campus of NCCU. The students were encouraged to use public transportation for the three reasons: (1) to reduce their carbon
footprint, (2) to be well-versed in public transportation and (3) to ensure they are never stranded. While at the Fab Lab, students made key chains
to market their wearable devices as well as printed the 3D models of their wearables. They also learned about how 3D printers are being used to make
things from car parts to food!
Today is The DAY!
On the final day of the camp, I was so excited to see the STEMgineers in action! I knew they were prepared and I couldn’t wait for them to show off their
wearables, posters, and business plans. We spent the morning finishing up wearable devices and putting the final touches on their pitches. As parents,
judges and community members entered the building; the intensity and competition increased in the room! STEMgineers were selling their ideas, showing
off their wearable and answering questions! It was a proud moment for me and the STEMgineers! The Swag Hat team won. They developed a hat that would
alert users with a vibration when their temperature reached a certain level. The students also received a novelty check for $10,000 from investors
and $20.00 each.
Please enjoy the camp video:
She was named Top Five Finalist for Durham Public Schools Teacher of the Year 2015-16. In addition, she was awarded a Kenan Fellowship in Wearable Devices
at NC State University for the 2015-16 school year. She was inspired to begin this summer camp after her fellowship at ASSIST Center at NC State as
a result of the Kenan Fellowship. She is currently a middle school Automation & Robotics teacher, magnet coordinator and STEM Scholars Coordinator
for the Howard N. Lee institute. In addition, she has presented at the Scaling STEM Conference and SAS Math Summit.