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Linda Mah
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Students Visit Bosch, Humphrey

Students Take STEM Projects to Actual Engineers

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) took on a real-life importance when Milwood Magnet School and Hillside Middle School students had the opportunity to interact with engineers at Bosch Automotive Service Solutions and Humphrey Products.

Select students from the schools, who have been working on automation and robotics either in classes or in after-school clubs, visited the businesses as part of field trips arranged by Project Lead The Way at the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency.

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a nonprofit organization that promotes science education by providing students with real-world skills in areas of computer science, engineering, and biomedical sciences. KRESA and its Education For Employment program have been working to integrate it into schools in Kalamazoo County. A Bosch grant supports the local effort.

Debra Kolberg, a STEM teacher consultant for KRESA who works with PLTW, said the automation and robotics classes at the schools allow the students to use VEX kits, which are filled with gears, screws, base plates, motors, switches, and other items. Students learn about and build mechanisms such as rack and pinion, gear drives, and universal joints.

They then build a car and program it to do perform simple operations such as move forward and stop at a prescribed point. They also reconfigure them to turn them into drag racers, Kolberg said. Students also study the basic design process, coming up with ideas to solve problems, testing their designs, and learning how to make modifications to improve their designs. Some of the projects the students designed included durable cell phone cases and heated dog houses.

Kolberg said she organized the field trips because she felt it was important for students to see work environments where science and engineering are practiced in real life and for students to meet engineers to gain a broader understanding of where their studies might lead. Plus, she said, the students needed a chance to “show off what they are learning and building.”

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