Oh, how thankful I am for STEM! Long before "STEM" became a buzzword, the ancients began calculating and discovering, and building and uncovering, to make their world-- our world -- a better place. What are you most thankful for? How has STEM been a part of what you are thankful for?
What a wonderful season we are in to prepare our minds and hearts to be thankful! As Thanksgiving Day approaches, we have a FREEBIE for you to get little minds thinking. Head on over to our TpT store to get an “I Am Thankful For STEM” activity page. This would be great for a warm-up or to begin any STEM activity. Students will write about what they are thankful for in each area of STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Have them share their thoughts with the class to learn more ideas we can be thankful for! Please share some of those ideas in the comments to this post.
One other thing I am thankful for is all of the wonderful resources I have access to in my home state of Texas. One such resource is a non-profit organization called TAME – Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering. Learn about TAME and get excited about their upcoming competition (Registration Deadline is November 16th!) by reading the interview below! TAME program coordinator, Lindsey Carmichael shared with us what TAME is all about:
Vivify: How did TAME begin?
TAME: TAME has been launching careers in STEM since 1976, when leaders in Texas industry and education came together to bring more diversity into engineering. We celebrated our 40th anniversary in September with some great vintage images and a look at how diversity in STEM has changed in Texas over four decades of work. You can read more here: 40 Years and a Formula for STEM Equity. We’re proud of our progress but there’s still so much to be done.
Vivify: Where is TAME located / what schools does it serve?
TAME: One of the great things about TAME is that we reach across Texas. Because somewhere in the Texas Panhandle, there’s a student who wants to be the first woman on Mars. Somewhere on the Gulf Coast, there’s a child who really loves bugs. Somewhere in the Valley, there’s a kid who dreams in pixels. We want to help spark that excitement, then help them stay excited.
That’s why TAME serves students where they are, in schools grades K-12, in community centers and libraries all over Texas. We bring our traveling science museums, the Trailblazers, over 20,000 miles each year to deliver hands-on STEM inspiration to communities that might not otherwise have access. We foster long term engagement with afterschool clubs and bring students back each year with STEM Competitions, then help them pursue their dreams with scholarships and mentorships.
Vivify: Why should a teacher start a TAME club?
TAME: The most common reason students and teachers start a TAME Club is that registered students grades 6-12 are eligible to participate in our free annual STEM Competitions. But more than that, we have a network of corporate and higher education partners that reaches back four decades all over the state. We help educators build relationships with local, state-wide, national, and international companies who want to give back.
Often this translates into volunteer efforts in our Trailblazer museums, but we also work to bring those STEM professionals into the club setting to serve as role models. One of our Board Members, Tamara Crawford, is a Senior Aeronautical Engineer at Lockheed Martin. She likes to say, “if you can see it, you can be it.” Research shows that young people are far more likely to succeed in STEM and pursue it beyond high school to a career when they have role models in their family or community. The theoretical path becomes more concrete when you’ve got a real-life role model explaining how he or she made it from their Texas town to their career in STEM.
We help role models from a diversity of backgrounds share their story with students—stories that can make the path seem less like a dream and more like a plan. When a Club Sponsor reaches out to us to request a volunteer STEM professional to talk to the students as a role model, we draw from forty years of connections with STEM industry leaders across Texas.
Vivify: What resources are provided to TAME Clubs?
TAME: In our TAME Clubs, students engage in deeper skill building and problem-solving activities, including rocketry, robotics and other engineering challenges, as they prepare for TAME’s annual STEM Competitions. TAME clubs are typically sponsored by teachers, librarians, or community partners and are usually hosted on a school campus. Here’s a video that explains it: http://www.tame.org/clubvideo.
Clubs meet regularly and program activities are designed to increase student skills, awareness of STEM careers and access to role models. To help Club Sponsors we curate engineering activity ideas on Pinterest here, plus collections of articles, videos, and photos of women and minorities in STEM.
Once registered, teachers and student members have access to:
- Invitations to TAME STEM Competitions for 6-12 graders
- Thousands of hands-on STEM activities and teaching resources
- Classroom visits from engineers, scientists, and more
- Free professional development at events like TAMU’s Teacher Summit, NEED, etc.
- Exclusive TAME Scholarships
- TAME’s Alumni Network to help students find jobs after graduation
TAME Clubs are also inclusive to all students who want to join. Because part of TAME's mission is to promote diversity in STEM careers, we focus recruitment on young women and under-represented minority populations. However, we welcome any student who wants to pursue their interest in STEM. Also, our Club membership is not limited to students in public school; we welcome home schooling networks, community groups, and more. And for groups who are already registered with another organization, as long as a group meets our requirements, they are eligible to register as a TAME Club and compete in our Competitions.
Vivify: What is the TAME competition about?
TAME: The annual Divisional and State TAME STEM Competitions bring together thousands of high-performing TAME club students grades 6-12 from across the state to test their STEM skills through collaborative engineering challenges and individual timed tests. The competitions celebrate achievement in STEM and encourage the development of a peer and mentor network. Last year's Divisional STEM Competition season saw a record-breaking number of participants—1,548 students competing across 13 different chapters.
The most exciting part of the day is when we group students into diverse teams to take on the roles of engineers and solve real-world problems with creativity and teamwork. Each year we work with our corporate partners to produce new challenges from different STEM fields. To give you an example, the 2016 State Engineering Design Challenge was developed by engineers from Boeing and Iridescent. The 2016 challenge was inspired by Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, and the mechanism needed to wrap the fuselage with lightweight composite materials like carbon fiber. Students had an hour to design, build, and test a self-supported wrapping machine that could cover a fuselage with a single layer of fiber--with no gaps or overlapping strands. One of the engineers volunteering at the event that day was so impressed that he took photos of the student prototypes and texted them directly to the professionals at Boeing who design the real thing.
The best part is that our partners ensure these events are completely free for participants. All you have to do is register a group of four or more students by November 16th at http://www.tame.org/club2016, then sign up the students who want to participate at http://www.tame.org/student2016.
This year we’ll have our 32nd annual State Competition in San Antonio again, and we want to bring in even more local students.
Vivify: Do you have a quote or story about a student in TAME?
TAME: We’ve been working hard to bring our resources to the Valley and last year had several TAME Clubs register there for the first time. They hosted a small Divisional STEM Competition in a town right on the border and because of that, several students received invitations to travel to San Antonio for the State STEM Competition. We were thrilled to have a keynote speaker named Tony Castilleja, Jr. from Baytown, Texas, who is a first generation Hispanic engineer. He gave an incredible speech about how education helped him find success at Boeing developing the Boeing CST-100, the first reusable spacecraft designed to travel to the ISS.
During the awards ceremony, a middle school student from the Valley came up to Tony with his second place trophy and asked him for a photo. Tony treated him like an equal, congratulated him, shook his hand, and spoke to his mother in Spanish. I’ll never forget the look on the student’s face when he told the student to keep working hard. I was grateful that his teacher in the Valley was eager to start a TAME Club so that he could take part and have that once-in-a-lifetime chance.
Hurry and register for the TAME STEM Competition - The deadline to be a part of the 2017 Competition is November 16, 2016!
Most of all, we are thankful for YOU! Thank you for your support and all that you do to encourage the next generation of STEMists! - The Vivify Team