Washington, DC (PRWEB) August 19, 2014
This summer, at a time when many of their peers are passing the time at home or otherwise just hanging out, more than 200 high school students across the country took advantage of a much more enlightening opportunity and perhaps received a glimpse of a potentially rewarding future.
With support from the U.S. Army’s Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP), the students spent their summer on college campuses receiving a hands-on educational experience in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through the UNITE program. This week marks the successful conclusion of the 2014 UNITE program.
The UNITE program is an intensive four-to-six week pre-collegiate academic summer program for talented high school students from groups historically underrepresented and underserved in STEM fields. Funded by the AEOP and coordinated by the Technology Student Association (TSA), the UNITE program is designed to encourage and help prepare students to pursue college-level students and ultimate find careers in engineering and related STEM fields.
The UNITE program sessions took place on college campuses at 10 locations across the country that competed to host a UNITE site. The instructors were college faculty members in STEM fields. During a typical UNITE session, the students, who are between their freshman and sophomore years of high school, received instruction in STEM fields and then conducted experiments or other activities that allowed them to put what they learn into action.
The program’s primary goal is to supplement and move beyond the instruction the students receive at their neighborhood schools and capture their interest in pursuing future studies in STEM. Additionally, the participants gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to prepare themselves academically for higher education in STEM as well as what it is like to be in college and, eventually, a STEM career field.
“If they carry these experiences with them, they’ll be very successful in their school years and perhaps in their careers as well,” said Dr. Francis Tulari, a professor of engineering at Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss. and a UNITE site coordinator and instructor. This summer, Tulari led his UNITE students through a college-level engineering course of study, intensive mathematics instruction and a unit focusing on computational thinking. Students were then able to put what they had learned to work by programming robots to perform specific tasks. “We tried to get them to think in terms of scientific principles,” Tulari said, “and then let them have some fun working with the robots. “
As part of the AEOP’s suite of STEM education and promotion programs, UNITE sites also taught students about potential STEM careers with the Army. At Jackson State, Tulari and his colleagues hosted scientists and engineers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Miss. These professionals gave presentations to the students about their research. Tulari said that many students began making the connection between the researchers’ work and their own potential careers. “They were very excited by the presentations,” he said. “They were asking the speakers ‘okay, if I want to be this in the future, what are the things I need to take care of from here on out.”
Pending the availability of funding, the UNITE program will be offered by the AEOP in 2015 and beyond.
2014 UNITE Sites
The Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) is comprised of Army-sponsored research, education, competitions, internships and practical experiences designed to engage and guide students as well as teachers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). From elementary school through graduate school, students of all proficiency levels, interests, ethnic, economic and academic backgrounds are encouraged to participate in real world experiences involving these important disciplines. More information is available at http://www.usaeop.com.