By Matt Coyne
STAMFORD — Students of all ages and teachers from across grade levels flocked to the Stamford Innovation Center on Wednesday night for the second Stamford Public School’s STEM Showcase.
“We’re trying to celebrate the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) work that’s currently being done throughout the district,” said Jim Forde, the schools’ STEM Professional, a GE grant funded position. “We invited different grade levels throughout elementary, middle and high school levels to showcase some of their innovative work around STEM.”
Projects, which filled one wing of the Innovation Center, included the results of a citywide lettuce growing competition, rocketry projects and robotics clubs. Teachers showed off lessons on infectious diseases and evolution.
Nikhil Tungaturthy, seventh grader at Cloonan Middle School, was a member of the Cloobots robotics club at his school. The club won the Senior Solutions regional competition in Greenwich and finished eighth in the state competition.
“I’ve always loved building robots and technology,” said Nikhil, who had been on robotics teams outside of school before Cloobots started. “When my school announced that it had its own robotics competition, I was really excited.”
Nikhil said the school’s support set a good example for him and his classmates.
“I want to peruse a path in technology. It’s something we use everyday, it’s something that’s constantly growing and expanding,” he said. “If the school didn’t do anything about it, you’d think it didn’t matter much. With the school supporting us, it shows us it’s a good path.”
Nationwide schools have upped their attempts to get more students interested in STEM-related fields. A Department of Commerce report from July 2011 expected a 17 percent growth in STEM fields, higher than the 9.8 percent growth in all other fields.
While that is important, Forde said, it is equally important students get the experience.
“It’s highly engaging to the students,” he said. “It gets them doing the right kinds of 21st century skills and produces students that have the right habits of mind to be successful. Whether or not they choose to go to college, they’re going to need these types of inquiry-based skills to be able to be successful.”