Last week we had the privilege of volunteering at Hoboken’s first ever STEM-a-thon at Stevens Institute of Technology, an event organized for 6th grade students citywide. The event gave these 11 and 12 year old students a unique opportunity to peek into the tech world and become engineers for the day. What began as an impromptu discussion amongst a group of local moms looking to build a better working relationship between our middle school aged children and the university, evolved into a citywide technology event that will hopefully become an annual institution in Hoboken for years to come. Our overwhelming appreciation goes out to Stevens Institute of Technology for planning, hosting, and sponsoring the event, and, in particular, to Adam Scribner, of Stevens’ CIESE program (Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education) which is a nationally recognized STEM education and research center.
Adam took the lead in crafting a day in which all 6th grade students were encouraged to put on their thinking caps, work together and learn the fundamentals of engineering. And, he and the Stevens team managed to make it loads of fun… not an easy task when you consider that 6th graders can often be the harshest critics of what is fun! Thanks as well to Ms. Ruani Ribe who managed the coordination and handled all the logistics for the event, and to the 20+ Stevens students who volunteered their time to running the three engineering activities. Thanks also to the HFA organization, led by Rachel Matthai and Anna Ogoti, who coordinated with the schools and the local businesses who provided STEM gift bags for the classes. As volunteers at the event, we saw firsthand the endless hours of work and effort put in by Stevens and HFA in pulling off this massive undertaking. At the end of the day, what we will remember is that all of the kids walked out with smiles talking about which experiments they liked the best, how their results differed and how fun it was to see their friends from other schools. Let’s make certain this is the first of many!