Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are going on the road as part of the STEM on Wheels program, an initiative made possible by a $200,000 Perkins Reserve grant to introduce Warren County students to basics in advanced technology.
“It is a trailer that will be traveling around to our county schools teaching STEM innovators and STEM designers to our seventh- and eighth-grade students,” said Tracy Risinger, Career and Technical Education director for Warren County. “They will learn concepts related to mechatronics, STEM, robotics and advanced manufacturing.”
The STEM on Wheels trailer arrived at Centertown School this week and students were given their first glimpse at its teaching tools which included a 3-D printer, one of which each school will get to keep. The concept of 3-D printers is that they can make – in the case of the printers that are being given to the schools – an object as it is drawn on a computer program.
The STEM on Wheels trailer also includes a mobile laboratory, 30 Dell laptop computers, milling machine, robotics, mechatronics trainer and numerous other STEM-related learning tools.
The mobile learning lab will visit Dibrell, Eastside, Irving College and Morrison after Centertown. Michael Pierce is the STEM instructor.
Deborah Knoll, state career consultant for STEM, was on hand for the kickoff Thursday at Centertown.
“We’re excited to see the students learning the hands-on collaboration and problem-solving skills they will need to bring into the pipeline here in Tennessee for future jobs,” she said.
State official Danielle Mezera noted STEM is quickly growing.
“STEM in Tennessee is one of the fastest growing and diversified opportunities for our state,” she said. “The fact Warren County has been doing this for the past couple of years has been so helpful in terms of being forward thinking.”
Pierce said he intends to use the robotics and other tools contained in the mobile lab to challenge students. The first day at Centertown included a challenge where teams built towers out of straws and tape, a prelude to more advanced engineering philosophy which he will be teaching in the coming week.