Tag Archives: STEM

Making a Difference in Motor City: Alternative Spring Break

Michigan Tech Alumnus Bruce Brunson during NSBE Alternative Spring Break in Detroit last year. Brunson earned BS degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering in 2018. He now works as an associate design engineer for Ethicon Endo-Surgery Inc. in Cincinnati, Ohio.

While some students travel for adventure during spring break, others travel for the greater good. The Michigan Tech Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) will head to Motor City to spread the message of STEM.

Ten Michigan Tech engineering students will visit six middle and high schools to encourage students to consider college and a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) careers as part of the chapter’s 8th Annual NSBE Alternative Spring Break trip to Detroit from March 11-13, 2019.

During the school day, the Michigan Tech students will make classroom presentations to middle and high school students encouraging them to continue their education after high school, consider going to college or community college, and choose a STEM career path. The NSBE students will also conduct evening Family Engineering events at three K-8 schools.

The goal of the NSBE classroom presentations and Family Engineering events are to engage, inspire, and encourage diverse students to learn about and consider careers in engineering and science through hands-on activities. These programs are designed to address our country’s need for an increased number and greater diversity of students skilled in STEM (math, science, technology, and engineering).

NSBE School Presentation Schedule ~ Monday-Wed, March 11-13, 2019
Morning High School Classroom Presentations (first 3 periods):
  • Western International High School
  • Communications and Media Arts HS
  • Ben Carson High School
Afternoon Middle School Classroom Presentations (2 periods after lunch) and K-8 Family Engineering Nights (3-5 pm):
  • Ronald Brown Academy
  • Thurgood Marshall K-8 School
  • Clippert Academy
This outreach effort is funded by General Motors, and the Michigan Tech Office of Admissions and College of Engineering, in partnership with Detroit Public Schools Community District. The effort is coordinated by the Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach.
High school students at these schools will also be encouraged to apply to participate in a 6-day Engineering & Environmental Science Exploration at Michigan Tech from July 20-27, or a 5-day Summer STEM Internship at Michigan Tech from July 15-19. Each participating student will be supported by a $700 scholarship. Application information is available here.
For many other students at Michigan Tech, For Michigan Tech students, spring break is a time to take the dedication, innovation and tenacity they bring to the classroom to a different venue. Read more about the wide range of alternative spring breaks taking place this year.

Invent It Build It: Six Questions with Hannah Cunningham

Hannah Cunningham '18 BME, pictured here in the colored-glass walkway at the Aros Art Museum in Denmark. Credit: Taran Schatz
Hannah Cunningham ’18 BME, pictured here in the colored-glass walkway at the Aros Art Museum in Denmark. Credit: Taran Schatz

Hannah Cunningham, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering at Michigan Tech, has been working with kids since she was in high school. Volunteering several times at the Society of Women Engineers’ annual Invent it Build It event for middle school girls was a natural thing for her to do. She took part while attending SWE conferences in Nashville, Philadelphia, and most recently at the National SWE WE17 Conference in Austin, Texas.

Q: What’s it like to volunteer for Invent It Build It?
A: I’ve had a few different roles. I’ve worked directly with the girls as a table leader, I’ve staged materials during the event, and been a “floater” who simply fills in where help is needed with things like registration, grabbing forgotten supplies from the hotel, or pouring oil into cups.

I had the greatest interaction with the girls as a table leader. My primary job was to direct my table of four or five girls through the two activities during the day, while making sure they were thinking critically about the engineering challenge and developing their engineering skills. Luckily, they were middle schoolers, so it was easy to talk with them and learn more about them.

Q: Do you see yourself in any of the participants?
A: The girls who attend are local to the city where the conference is being held. For the most part they’re very similar. They don’t really have any idea what they want to do, but engineering could be their future. At the event they work together on engineering challenges with varying levels of teamwork, but all are capable of providing something to the challenge.

At that age it can be difficult to see your own contribution. It’s even more difficult to respect your own work without comparing it to everyone else’s. This event gives them a chance to build one thing as a team, with each participating in some way.

I try not to remember myself as a middle schooler, but some of the girls definitely remind me of myself. When faced with the project/challenge, they work at it, and work hard, until they’ve come to final product.

Hannah Cunningham '18 BMEQ: Are you involved in any other engineering outreach?
A: While at Michigan Tech I have taught various courses for first and second graders through the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach led by Joan Chadde-Schumaker. When I teach these classes, even if the topic is not related to engineering, such as wildlife exploration, I always make sure to develop a project to include engineering. I believe engineering projects challenge kids’ creativity, teamwork skills and technical skills. Engineering projects are fantastic for any classroom setting and the supplies can be simple, recyclable materials.

Q: What would you like to do when you graduate?
A: I am due to graduate with a BS in biomedical engineering this Spring (!). I plan to pursue an accelerated master’s degree in Kinesiology next year. I wan to finish my research and learn more about biomechanics. I’d like to become involved in a company or university that will allow me to develop and/or research products that can be beneficial for human health. I’m interested in biomechanics, so anything dealing with treating, modifying, or enhancing human movement is fair game.
Q: How has being involved with SWE impacted your life so far?
A: I’ve learned about the many different roles women can have in engineering. SWE has helped me develop my skills as a professional, by offering networking events with professionals and businesses. My own educational path has slowly directed me away from engineering, but I still feel strongly that I can still be involved even if my job title isn’t “engineer”.

Presenters Needed for Water Festival

World Water DayPresenters are sought for a water festival for students in grades four through eight. The festival takes place on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, at Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center.

Consider being a presenter and sharing your expertise and passion for the Great Lakes and STEM careers.

A total of 20 presenters are needed for the 8:45 to 11:35 a.m. Morning Session and 20 presenters for the Afternoon Session, noon to 2:55 p.m. Those interested can present at either or both sessions.

If interested in presenting, reply at your earliest convenience via email to Joan Chadde or call the office at 7-3341.

Tell us your topic, a short description (2-3 sentences) and if you’re available morning, afternoon or both.

Read more at Tech Today, by Joan Chadde.


2016 Summer Michigan Tech University Summer Teacher Institutes

Attention Teachers Grades 4-12! Register now for the 2016 Summer Michigan Tech University Summer Teacher Institutes!

Global Change Teacher Institute, June 20-24  (ED5641); Engaging Students in Authentic Science Research Teacher Institute, June 27-July 1  (ED5601); and Designing a Sustainable Future Teacher Institute, July 11-15  (ED 5640).

The application deadline is May 1, 2016. Please complete teacher institute applications online. See link after each description below, or visit http://wupcenter.mtu.edu/

To register for Michigan Tech credits: Michigan Tech Cognitive & Learning Sciences will contact you with registration information (Tel: 906-487-2460)

For more information: Joan Chadde, Institute Coordinator (jchadde@mtu.edu or 906-487-3341)

ED5641 Global Change Teacher Institute (for Grades 4-12 Teachers)
Date: M-F, June 20-24, 2016
This 5-day Institute will prepare you to engage your middle and high school students in a real-world study of the effects of global change on ecosystems, including the impacts of climatic change on forests— elevated carbon dioxide and ozone levels, nitrogen saturation, acid rain, and invasive species. Teachers will participate in the MEECS Climate Change workshop and receive the NEW MEECS Climate Change Unit. Cost: $400 off campus includes five lunches, 2 Michigan Tech graduate credits and instructional materials. $700 on campus includes 5 nights lodging & meals from Monday morning through Friday lunch, 2 Michigan Tech graduate credits and instructional materials.
Link to register: 2016 Global Change Teacher Institute Application
Link to Global Change flyer

ED5601 Engaging Students in Authentic Science Research Teacher Institute (for Gr. 4-12 Teachers)
Date: M-F, June 27-July 1, 2016
Teachers gain skills in designing original research, rather than merely conducting cookbook experiments. Teachers will learn research design methods and procedures, and participate in a variety of research field and lab studies. Cost: $400 off campus includes five lunches, 2 Michigan Tech graduate credits and instructional materials. $700 on campus includes 5 nights lodging & meals from Monday morning through Friday lunch, 2 Michigan Tech graduate credits and instructional materials.
Link to register: 2016 Engaging Students in Science Research Application
Link to Engaging Students in Authentic Science Research Flyer

ED 5640 Designing a Sustainable Future Teacher Institute (for Grades 4-12 Teachers)
Date: M-F, July 11-15, 2016
The institute will introduce teachers to the field of sustainability through examination of product life cycles, product recycling, repurposing materials, renewable energy sources of wind, solar, and biomass, designing energy- and resource-efficient buildings, site designs to reduce storm water runoff and increase biodiversity, and efficient transportation systems and vehicles. The institute will address the Next Generation Science Standards and be taught by a variety of Michigan Tech University faculty and graduate students, along with community and teacher experts. Cost: $400 off campus includes five lunches, 2 Michigan Tech graduate credits and instructional materials. $700 on campus includes five nights lodging & meals from Monday morning through Friday lunch, 2 Michigan Tech graduate credits and materials.
Link to register: 2016 Designing a Sustainable Future Application
Link to Designing a Sustainable Future Flyer


Investigate the Great Lakes at the Portage Lake District Library

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The Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center and Portage Lake District Library hosted a special evening program for all ages on Monday, June 29, focused on the Great Lakes and what lives here. Participants began the program at the library where several activity stations were set up indoors and outside. Participants had the option to participate in a scientific excursion aboard the Agassiz research vessel, traveling from the library to the Great Lakes Research Center where they visited a laboratory to use microscopes in order to peer at the tiny organisms and examine a variety of fish.

Station Activities
Station 1: What Lives in a Stream? (all ages) – Children explore the diverse and sci-fi looking macroinvertebrate organisms that live in the stream and tell us if it’s a healthy stream. Outside at picnic table

Station 2: Fishing: Is it big enough to catch & keep? (all ages) – Did you know there are limits on the size of fish that you can catch and keep? Fish for trout, sturgeon, pike and other Great Lakes fish species—then identify them and check to be sure they’re “keepers”! Community Room

Station 3: Scientific Excursion on Agassiz (7 years & up, youth & adults) Board at dock west of the Library

Station 4: Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center Lab – Compare fish mouth adaptations, view cool plankton under microscopes, and put together a Lake Trout food chain.

Station 5: What Lives in the Great Lakes Watershed? – Use sidewalk chalk and draw life-size Great Lakes creatures that live in the lakes. Outside on sidewalk

Station 6: Sandy Beaches—Are They All the Same – Make a sand ID card and compare the color, texture, and size of the sand particles from different beaches on the Keweenaw Peninsula, around Michigan, and beyond! Bring in a sand sample from your favorite beach for comparison. Community Room

Station 7: Read a story about the Great Lakes – join a local author to read some special Great Lakes stories. Children’s Reading Corner

Station 8: Could a Fish or Frog Live in This Water? – Measure the pH (acidity) of different liquids and determine whether a fish or frog could survive. Community Room

Chris Alquist, librarian, observed, “Thanks so much for another great event! Every activity was interesting, and the kids were engaged and learning!”

More than 80 attended, there were four full Agassiz scientific cruises with 18 participants each.

Here are a few of the parents’ comments:
It was exciting to ride the Agassiz and we learned a lot (about plankton)! It was interesting for all of us! (2)
I like that there were many activities. I like the college students involved.
It gave my daughter a good feeling of going into a college lab.
Amazing creatures all around!
Great time! Everyone was helpful!!
Your programs are always extremely educational & fun!
Both my children had activities that suited them well—plankton, pH levels.


Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center and Portage Lake District Library presented "Investigate the Great Lakes"
Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center and Portage Lake District Library presented “Investigate the Great Lakes”

Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center and Portage Lake District Library presented "Investigate the Great Lakes"
Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center and Portage Lake District Library presented “Investigate the Great Lakes”

See more photos at the Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center Flickr Photo Gallery “Investigate the Great Lakes”

For more information, contact: Joan Chadde at 487-3341 at the Great Lakes Research Center or Chris Alquist at 482-4570 at the Portage Lake District Library. This program is funded by General Motors and the Portage Lake District Library.

Portage Library Flyer 06.29.15


Detroit High School Students Visit Michigan Tech

CIMG58895-Day Trip to Visit Michigan Technological University for 20 Detroit High School Students: June 15-19, 2015

Monday June 15th started an adventure for 20 Detroit high school students who want to explore careers in natural resources, environmental science and engineering—forestry; wildlife; water quality; Great Lakes; environmental, civil and mechanical engineering, and more! Thanks to donations by numerous Michigan Tech departments and offices, students have FREE transportation, food, lodging and an exciting program!

Students had a full schedule while at Michigan Tech where they would identify trees, measure forest plots, inventory invasive earthworms, visit the underground rhizotron, participate in a 4-hour Great Lakes investigation aboard MTU’s Agassiz research vessel in Lake Superior, assess the health of local streams; manipulate underwater autonomous remotely operated vehicles, visit labs, conduct insect and wetland inventories, and explore nearby state and county parks to enjoy the beautiful Keweenaw and Upper Peninsula. Students experienced college life staying and eating at Wadsworth Residence Hall.

These twenty students successfully applied for this program (first of its kind) and were eager to visit Michigan Tech’s campus, explore future careers, and have new experiences. The students are in grades 9-12, and come from eight different Detroit high schools. Many people have helped to make this possible, from help with recruitment in Detroit, to the more than a eighteen experts volunteering their time to present to these youth.

The Program is coordinated by Joan Chadde, director of the Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach, in collaboration with Detroit colleagues at the Belle Isle Nature Zoo, Mike Reed, Curator of Education – Informal Programs, Detroit Zoological Society and U.S. Forest Service Urban Connections Program.

Generous funding from the following have made this program possible:
MTU School of Forest Resources & Environmental Science, Michigan Tech College of Engineering, Michigan Tech Housing & Residential Life, MTU Admissions, Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Pre-College Outreach Initiative, Michigan Tech Transportation Institute, and the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

View a YouTube Video Clip of “Detroit High School Students Visit Michigan Tech”

View Pictures on the College of Engineering Photo Gallery Flickr

See the WLUC TV 6 Television News article “Detroit students visit the Keweenaw at Michigan Tech University “

Daily Mining Gazette article “Tech Tour” (cannot be seen without subscription)

Michigan Tech Dean of Engineering Wayne Pennington has lunch with visiting students.
Michigan Tech Dean of Engineering Wayne Pennington has lunch with visiting students.

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Outdoor STEM experiences for local schools

IMG_1046450On Monday, June 1st through Thurs June 4th, local school students were introduced to various STEM education and Career opportunities. Dollar Bay Elementary School had scientific excursions on the RV Agassiz, and saw science projects at 102 GLRC, and 104 GLRC. The program is funded by General Motors Ride the Waves program.

Jeffers High School’s Place-based Learning Day was at Lake Perrault and the Michigan Nature Association’s Brown Sanctuary. This is funded by a grant from EPA Exemplary Model and Earth Force, along with Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative.

On Tuesday, June 2nd, Dollar Bay Elementary School had two 1.5-hour sessions aboard the Agassiz research vessel (GLRC dock/boathouse) and lab (102 GLRC) with description of Aquatic Ecology Program. This is funded by Ride the Waves/GM.

See a video clip

Also on Tuesday, June 2nd Houghton Middle School was at the Marsin Center monitoring frogs & salamanders, fish seining, and native plant landscaping. This funding is provided by Keweenaw Land Trust with a grant from the Youth Advisory Council (YAC) of the Keweenaw Community Foundation awarded in March 2015.

On Wed, June 3rd the Washington Middle School Gr. 6-8 students held an Adopt a Beach Program and invasive species removal at Calumet Waterworks Park thanks to a grant from EPA Exemplary Model and Earth Force, along with Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative.

Dollar Bay Elementary School went to the Marsin Center on Thursday, June 4. Funded by Keweenaw Land Trust with a grant from the Youth Advisory Council (YAC) of the Keweenaw Community Foundation awarded in March 2015.
For more information, visit: http://lakesuperiorstewardship.org/

Scientific Excursion on board RV Agassiz -- GM Ride the Waves Program
Scientific Excursion on board RV Agassiz — GM Ride the Waves Program
Dollar Bay Elementary School learns about Aquatic Ecology Program. This is funded by Ride the Waves/GM.
Dollar Bay Elementary School learns about Aquatic Ecology Program. This is funded by Ride the Waves/GM.
Dollar Bay Elementary School learns about Aquatic Ecology Program. This is funded by Ride the Waves/GM.
Dollar Bay Elementary School learns about Aquatic Ecology Program. This is funded by Ride the Waves/GM.
Dollar Bay Elementary School learns about Aquatic Ecology Program. This is funded by Ride the Waves/GM.
Dollar Bay Elementary School learns about Aquatic Ecology Program. This is funded by Ride the Waves/GM.
Dollar Bay Elementary School learns about Aquatic Ecology Program. This is funded by Ride the Waves/GM.
Dollar Bay Elementary School learns about Aquatic Ecology Program. This is funded by Ride the Waves/GM.


STEM Immersion on Isle Royale

IMG_0702 (2) (1280x853)A group of 13 Keweenaw Bay Indian Community youth took part in an immersion experience in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and careers, May 26 to 30, 2015 on Isle Royale. The program, entitled “MAAMAADIZI II”, was co-sponsored by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, the Cedar Tree Institute of Marquette, the Isle Royale Institute and Michigan Tech’s Ride the Waves with General Motors Program. MAAMAADIZI, meaning “the Journey begins” in the Anishinaabe language, sought to immerse students in a wilderness environment rich in both scientific and spiritual content. A diverse community participated in the Journey, including spiritual advisors, artists, scientists, chaperones, graduate student mentors and KBIC drummers … a grand party of 32 travelers. Isle Royale National Park provided an ideal wilderness setting for this important work.

The Michigan Tech team of 6 members traveled to Isle Royale aboard the R/V Agassiz with Captain Stephen Roblee at the helm; the rest of the party came across on the MV Ranger III. Once on the island, the R/V Agassiz provided transport to campsites, ferry service for on-island field trips and served as a platform for STEM offerings. KBIC students, MTU graduate student mentors and chaperones camped for two nights at Daisy Farm, with the entire party moving to Tobin Harbor Cottages for the last two nights.

STEM Science was presented through water quality measurements (light and temperature sensors, Secchi disk transparency) and collections (plankton and bottom organisms) made in Moskey Basin and in the open lake from the R/V Agassiz. Samples were examined on board using microscopes and dissecting scopes. The STEM Science program was led by Dr. Marty Auer of Michigan Tech supported by graduate student mentors Varsha Raman, Aubrey Scott and Nathan Zgnilec.

STEM Math was presented within the context of mass and compass (on land, Jon Magnuson, Cedar Tree Institute) and vessel navigation (on the water, Stephen Roblee, MTU). Hikes to Mount Ojibway and an R/V Agassiz cruise around ice-encrusted Blake Point to a shipwreck site on the Palisades provided the venue for STEM Math offerings.

Students also participated in Art and Spirit Projects led by artist and illustrator Diana Magnuson of the Cedar Tree Institute. Ken Vrana, Director of the Isle Royale Institute, guided students on hikes and on field trips to Rock Harbor Lighthouse, Edisen Fishery and the Island home of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project hosted by MTU’s Rolf and Candy Peterson.

The Journey was wrapped up with a Feast prepared by the Rock Harbor Lodge, a Ceremony hosted by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Drum and an evening campfire with S’mores.

The KBIC, particularly Lori Sherman and chaperones Richard Wickstrom and Katrina Ravindran, deserves special thanks for logistical and financial support. The Isle Royale Institute contributed financial and made other contributions which greatly enriched the experience. The R/V Agassiz and Captain Stephen Roblee were made available through Ride the Waves with General Motors. Wilderness STEM experiences with KBIC youth were originated in 2013 by Jon Magnuson of the Cedar Tree Institute and Marty Auer of Michigan Tech and, with support from General Motors are now in their third year.

Group at Mott Island, Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior
Group at Mott Island, Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior
Group on board RV Agassiz, Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior
Group on board RV Agassiz, Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior
Group at the the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project hosted by MTU’s Rolf and Candy Peterson
Group at the the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project hosted by MTU’s Rolf and Candy Peterson
On board the RV Agassiz
On board the RV Agassiz

See More Photos of the STEM Immersion on Isle Royale


STEM Career Tours at Michigan Tech

STEMHigh School students came to learn about STEM Careers at Michigan Tech. Nearly 200 high school students from nine schools in the western UP spent a day at Michigan Tech, exploring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. They visited labs and learn about green building and low-impact design, human monitoring devices, forest insects, steam mechanics, remotely-operated vehicles, computer science, materials science and engineering, civil engineering/concrete testing, Great Lakes fish, transportation engineering and geology and mining engineering.

On Tuesday May 12, students from Jeffers High School in Adams Township spent the day at Tech learning about STEM careers. Students from Nah Tah Wahsh Public Academy in Wilson were on campus on May 13th, and on Friday the 15th the University will host students from Watersmeet High School.

Students visited a variety of science, engineering, and computer labs at Michigan Tech and participate in presentations and hands-on activities led by Michigan Tech students, engineers, and scientists to kick start students’ planning for careers in STEM. Tours were approximately from 9 am to 2:30 pm.

View some photos of the STEM Careers Tours Program at Michigan Tech

View a short video clip of a lab example learning about STEM careers

Download the PDF Flyer: STEM Career Tours at Michigan Tech

Selected Topics and Labs to Visited:

Green Building & Low Impact Design
Stream Mechanics Lab
Remotely Operated Vehicles
Computer Science
Materials Science & Engineering
Civil Engineering Concrete TestingLab
Fishy Great Lakes
Transportation Engineering
Geology & Mining Engineering
Human Monitoring Devices / Driving Simulator
Forest Insects

For more information about STEM Career Tours at Michigan Tech, contact:

Joan Chadde, Director
MTU Center for Science & Environmental Outreach
jchadde@mtu.edu or 906-487-3341

Made possible with funding from the Michigan STEM Partnership and coordinated by the MTU Center for Science & Environmental Outreach and Western U.P. Center for Science, Math and Environmental Education with assistance from the Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering.

STEM Tours School FLYER

Schools Sheduled (Update to May 6)

April 28 – Keweenaw Bay Alternative School and Copper Country Christian
May 4 – Lake Linden-Hubbell High School
May 5 – L’Anse High School
May 8: Dollar Bay
May 11: Bessemer
May 12: Jeffers High School
May 13: Nah Tah Wahsh
May 15: Watersmeet

STEM Career Tour
STEM Career Tour
STEM Career Tour
STEM Career Tour