Students Heightened Interest in STEM Careers
When STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers are mentioned, most students will picture an astronaut, construction worker or maybe Bill Nye the Science Guy. Although all those answers are a part of STEM, it does not capture the full spectrum of STEM careers. STEM careers are projected to grow by eleven percent within the next decade (U.S. Department of Labor Blog). Teachers and schools recognize this statistic as various STEM-related clubs are established. With the additional effort teachers and schools bring forth, do these extra-curricular clubs and opportunities help expand students’ understanding of STEM and interest in STEM careers?
One example is Maui High Robotics Club: Blue Thunder Team 2443. Mr. Imada and Mr. Nakamura have mentored incoming and returning club members for fourteen years and have built “an active community unified by the goal to develop STEM and leadership skills,” described Jhanessty Bautista, Maui High Robotics team documenter.
As Team 2443 enters their First Robotics Competition build season (eight weeks for students to design, build and program a 125-pound robot to compete against international First Robotics Competition teams), students obtain hands-on experience in STEM skills such as design, carpentry, welding and coding. “Last year, my programming partner [Carlo Cortez, 2022 programming captain] taught me java [programming language]. It was hard to understand at first but by practicing java on a tangible object, my partner and I were able to code our robot’s intake system and its sensors successfully,” reflected Maui High School junior Edrich Rabanes.
Extra-curricular STEM clubs allow real-world application in STEM skills and classroom lessons. Norman Montehermoso, a Maui High School junior, reveals, “When designing the robot’s arm, I had to apply various geometry and trigonometry theorems and formulas to find the correct angle placement.” A deeper understanding and value are established as students are prompted to apply various classroom lessons toward real-world challenges instead of worksheet problems. Former designer [2022 designer] Alvin Montehermoso initially wanted to study astronomy. “After joining robotics club in middle school and continuing with it until high school, I started to enjoy engineering, design and robotics. Now I am working to pursue a career in mechanical engineering.”
As schools create various opportunities in STEM, students are encouraged to discover and explore STEM careers, skills, and opportunities at an early age, thus furthering students to develop their own understanding of STEM and distinguish their interest in it. “Robotics was my vessel for deepening my understanding of STEM, specifically the multitude of opportunities and skills intertwined with STEM,” concludes Edrich Rabanes.
Google® Is Not Everything is a monthly column authored by high school students. The title of the column emphasizes education is more than just googling a topic. Google® is a registered trademark. This month’s guest columnist is Jazmyne Faith Viloria, a Senior at Maui High School. She is a member of SaberScribes (Maui High’s journalism club), Historian of the Video Club and Team Captain of Blue Thunder, Maui High’s Robotics club. Jazmyne is in the ACOM Pathway at Maui High, focusing on videography and photography. In her free time, she sews and refashions old clothes, journals, edits photos/videos and loves to analyze lyrics in songs. She is the daughter of Ruth Sagisi and Rudy Viloria.