Spring STEM Outreach

 So far this spring, FLATE has been involved in several STEM outreach events in our local Tampa Bay community. While all these events were different, they all had a similar goal: to encourage participation in STEM fields. 

March 8: USF Women in Entrepreneurship Breakfast

Hosted by USF CONNECT, the Women in Entrepreneurship Breakfast is Tampa Bay’s
premier forum developed to inspire and empower women to reach their entrepreneurial goals. Around 170 individuals attended the event, which took place on International
Women’s Day and offered great networking opportunities for FLATE. The FLATE team met a great group of females from around Tampa Bay and several other Florida communities, and distributed information regarding women in manufacturing. The event provided inspiration from a panel of female professionals as they shared their experiences, trials and errors, and offered insight into the world of business.

The panelists included three very successful University of South Florida alumni who
presented their insight and achievements as female entrepreneurs. They were: Jacqueline Darna, CEO and medical inventor of the NoMo Nausea Band; Jordann Windschauer, founder and CEO of Base Culture; and Maha Sallam, Ph.D., founder and President of VuEssence Inc. The panelists discussed several topics including: finances and how all three practiced “bootstrapping” to make ends meet, marketing strategies and how to “know
your customer”, how they knew when it was time to quit their “9-5” job, how they gained inspirations for their products and businesses, how they knew who to trust with their ideas, and how to use social media. The speakers closed the event with some words of advice to hopeful entrepreneurs:

Jaqueline Darna said “Business is the business of people, not products and services.”

Jordann Windschauer said “Don’t ever be the smartest person in the room, because then you are never learning.”

Maha Sallam said “Never assume anything and always take leaps of faith.”

March 10: Greco Middle School Career Expo 

Greco Middle School’s Career Expo was the first of its kind. This all-day event was designed to expose middle school students to different jobs and careers. It was held in conjunction with a student project that was targeted to help students explore their interests and talents.

During the event, students and teachers were given flyers and information on FLATE summer robotics camps and the engineering technology tours, and other FLATE online resources. Several educators, parents and students showed interest in both the programs. FLATE was among 30 local business and industry personnel to attend the Career Expo. Other exhibitors included companies like GTE, City of Tampa, and Grow Financial.

FLATE was also able to share information with teachers and administrators about the Engineering Technology program at HCC and colleges across Florida. Additionally, Made in Florida curriculum was distributed to some educators. Around 800 students from Greco Middle School visited the expo hall and tables in groups separated by grade level. The students showed a wide variety of interests, with some being especially interested in manufacturing and robotics.

March 30: Middleton High School Seventh Annual STEM Professional Association Event 

Middleton High School’s STEM Professional Association event is held on an annual basis, and connects students, parents, educators and professionals in Tampa Bay. This year marked the 7th annual event. The goal of the event is to encourage student interest in STEM careers and share local professional resources.

FLATE was one of several organizations invited to join. Other local organizations that attended the event were Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA) and Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Tampa Bay. During a networking opportunity at the beginning of the event, FLATE was able to share information regarding our robotics open house and summer camps, and share curriculum with teachers. Both teachers and students seemed genuinely interested in FLATE’s upcoming programs and resources.

After a networking opportunity, the STEM Professional Association event began. The event started with a presentation by Middleton High School robotics club students. The students presented a PowerPoint which discussed the basics of their club and their Electrathon car, and then they demonstrated their car. The Electrathon car is completely designed and built by the students, and then raced at events throughout the state. 

After the Electrathon car presentation, the keynote speech was given by Dr. Kim Moore, principal of Middleton High School. Dr. Moore presented on the topic of “Diversity and Inclusion in STEM Education.” Dr. Moore began her speech by saying “education is the gateway for the future for our students.” However she then presented some troubling information: the workforce demographics of STEM fields have not changed much in over a decade. She stated that this problem must be changed, because “to remain competitive in this field, we must remain diverse.” Her presentation examined recent research, which especially targets overlooked talent in schools. Dr. Moore also discussed the best practices in creating diverse and inclusive STEM opportunities, especially in secondary education. 

After Dr. Moore’s speech, the event was closed by a second robotics demonstration conducted by Middleton High School robotics club students. They students had the opportunity to show several projects they have been working on, and showed projects that helped them win the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 Florida State FTC Robotics Championships. 

If you are interested in getting involved in outreach activities with FLATE, please contact Janice Mukhia, Project and Outreach Manager for FLATE, at outreach@fl-ate.org or Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director for FLATE, at barger@fl-ate.org.

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