March 10, 2022

Wayne State offers exploration, inspiration in any setting for middle school students with WSU To You: Explore STEM

Middle school students across southeastern Michigan will participate in WSU To You: Explore STEM from their classrooms or homes.

This week, more than 4,000 middle school students will engage in learning and experimentation in areas of science, technology, engineering and math through Wayne State’s new WSU to You: Explore STEM program. The program, which will run from March 14–18, is an adaptation of Wayne State’s popular STEM Day event, designed to accommodate the flexible needs of local teachers while still providing interactive, hands-on lessons for students.

Participating schools will choose from a variety of curriculum options, including printable lesson plans, STEM trivia and games, an online scavenger hunt, and more. Teachers were also invited to receive a box of supplementary materials, including an activity book, admissions brochure with academic and career pathways, stickers, and WSU goodies, to be delivered for classroom distribution. More than 34 schools across southeastern Michigan will participate in WSU to You: Explore STEM, which is designed for sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth grade students. The program will reach students in public schools, charter schools and home schools.

Chris King, a teacher at Addams Middle School in Westland, will use materials provided by Wayne State to engage his class in STEM activities.

“It’s important for kids to explore at an early age, and without preconceived ideas about what they can or cannot do,” said Julie Hasse, who coordinates the event and is associate director of experiential marketing in the Office of Marketing and Communications. “Programs like ours help inspire or awaken a passion that a student may not otherwise find, and those passions often align with in-demand careers. We’re working to help the next generation see themselves as potential doctors, engineers, graphic designers, computer programmers and scientists who can have success while doing work that excites and inspires them.”

The program helps the next generation explore STEM fields and consider the academic pathways that will help them prepare for related careers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that STEM-related jobs will grow more than 10% by 2030, and that the median salary for such jobs is more than double that of a non-STEM job.

The program also encourages students to use WSU’s Career Insights tool, which helps students match their interests and skills with potential career paths and the academic programs available to support them on their journey. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to ask current WSU students questions about their college experiences and take a virtual tour of campus.

“We’re building awareness among young students about Wayne State and the life-changing potential a college degree can have,” said Hasse. “Our hope is that participating students remember the experiences they’ve had with Wayne State as they make important decisions about their future.”

WSU launched its STEM Day program in 2017, which traditionally includes on-campus sessions. Hasse worked with local teachers who had participated in previous events to gather feedback about how a virtual adaptation might be tailored to their students’ needs. Many of the STEM Day sessions were adapted as printable lesson plans, and  — based on teachers’ feedback  — asynchronous virtual engagement opportunities were expanded to allow flexibility. This year’s adapted event will reach more students than previous STEM Days, and Hasse said she plans to incorporate many of the virtual elements into future, hybrid-style events.

The event is made possible by a team of 30 volunteers from across campus who helped assemble and distribute supply boxes to the participating schools.

“The success of this event depends heavily on a network of volunteers who are always willing to go above and beyond. I was impressed with how quickly our volunteer roles were filled, and how enthusiastic people have been in supporting the event” said Rachel Flum, marketing coordinator. “We’ve heard from teachers how excited they are, and we appreciate the commitment of our volunteers to engaging with the community on behalf of Wayne State."

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