‘STEM’ learning cultivates better community for tomorrow
School starts early in Southwest Florida. Weeks before Labor Day, children were already back in class, and at EnSite, we’re committed to giving the students in our community an even larger head start. We invest in education through the construction of outdoor classrooms, mentoring, and encouragement of the “STEM” curriculum.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. As an engineering firm, we’re fond of all those subjects. Together, they represent a set of fields that help prepare students for the challenges facing their communities and the world as a whole, and to become stewards of the kinds of sustainable practices we put into place every day at EnSite.
STEM education can begin in early childhood. The “Ramps & Pathways” program is a STEM teaching approach that marries physics, engineering and play. In a typical application of Ramps & Pathways, young children are given simple objects, like marbles and wood strips of varying shapes and sizes, and encouraged to use the wood strips to build in ways that will help the marbles move.
The physics of creating a structure and moving the marbles represents the science component. Using that structure to move the marbles introduces the children to rudimentary technology. Designing structures to achieve results is exactly what we do as engineers. And the observations the children make about the number of wood strips, their shape, the space the occupy, and the patterns they create — that’s math.
Through this simple guided play activity, early learners begin to make the connections that open the doors to years of learning to come. These early STEM activities encourage creative problem-solving that breeds confidence and perseverance — two elements of character that will help children no matter what they choose to do in life.
Naturally, we hope the activity sparks a passion for engineering that ultimately leads them down the same path we followed. We love to encourage students interested in engineering through our mentorship program, but even if they ultimately choose another career field, the benefits of providing hands-on engineering experience are well worth the investment. We’re excited to see what future generations of engaged learners will do to help make our community a better place.