BY CRISTINA M. GARCIA | HCISD STAFF
Parents joined future and current students of STEM2 Preparatory Academy Saturday morning to explore forensics, engineering, robotics and journalism learning stations designed by Discovery Education.
“I wanted to come here because I’m in the robotics team, and I love to build with legos and do a lot of scientific (activities),” said Jaylen Rangel, a current Lee Means Elementary Fine Arts Academy 5th grader, who was accepted into the preparatory academy in January.
Jaylen chose to apply for acceptance into the school. When she received word about her acceptance this January, Jaylen said she “started to cry” out of joy.
“I’m looking forward to a new future,” Jaylen said after participating in the robotic hand activity, which introduced her to mechanical engineering principles.
Jaylen and her mother Jessica Lopez were among about 80 families in attendance at Saturday’s event.
“I’ve had feedback from parents that say, ‘This is great,’” said Mrs. Sonya Brandenburg, the academy’s director. “STEMtastic Saturday is beneficial because it allows parents to come in and experience with their students and understand the curriculum of STEM for the jobs of tomorrow, some of which are unknown.”
In a classroom nearby the robotic hand activity, students used creativity and problem-solving skills in groups to construct a structure out of materials such as pipe cleaners, straws and popsicle sticks. The students used analytical thinking to construct their structures with enough support to hold a tennis ball.
This activity introduced the students to structural engineering, a field that comes with a median income of about $84,770, according to an information sheet given to all students and parents in attendance at the event.
“We try to show students as often as we can lots of different types of careers, so they realize what their options are,” said Carol Huard of Discovery Education. “We also focus on being the kind of person that can do any kind of career — being able to collaborate, communicate, be creative and critically think because it doesn’t matter what our jobs are going to be in the future, those qualities are going to be needed, so that’s a big part of our emphasis.”
Along with core classes such as math and history, STEM2 Preparatory Academy offers automation and robotics, design and modeling, medical detectives and computer science courses during the school year.
STEMtasic Saturday is held to allow parents to get a feel for STEM curriculum offered at the academy. It takes place before the start of each school year.