Wayne State University recently played host to thousands of area K-12 students participating in regional innovation and entrepreneurial activities.
On March 11 and 12, roughly 1,200 high school students came to the Matthaei Physical Education Center for the FIRST Robotics Detroit District Championship. A week later, on March 18, the STEM Innovation Learning Center acted as the Wayne County regional hub for the Invention Convention competition, attended by nearly 100 students from grades 3-12. Both events emphasized the importance of STEM education, creativity and collaboration — all areas of strength at Wayne State.
“As more in-person activities resume, these events demonstrate Wayne State’s ongoing commitment to sharing our world-class resources with the community, and to encourage the next generation of college students to build confidence in their skills while having a meaningful experience on our campus,” said Darryl Gardner, senior director for academic student affairs. “It’s invigorating to see these students’ energy and enthusiasm, and we look forward to future opportunities to bring younger students — perhaps future Warriors — to campus.”
The university is working to maximize the use of space on campus, like the STEM Innovation Learning Center which opened in 2020. In addition to flexible classrooms and teaching labs, the STEM Innovation Learning Center also includes dedicated coworking space for WSU Warrior K-12 program creators and hosts to bring together those within the campus community working to engage with the next generation of students.
Theresa Ramirez-Zipser, STEM engagement coordinator, said the university has a strong commitment to engaging area students, which is seen across the numerous K-12 activities led by program teams out of every school and college at Wayne State. “Annually, we serve an estimated 15,000 K-12 students, many of whom come from Detroit, through programming and events,” said Ramirez-Zipser. “We have these incredible spaces, and there’s a definite need in the community, so it’s a win-win opportunity. Introducing students to pathways and experiences they never knew existed and that motivate them to seek out additional opportunities is what energizes me the most; it’s why I love what I do.”
FIRST Robotics Detroit District Championship
The FIRST Robotics Detroit District Championship brought 40 teams from high schools in Detroit, Pontiac, Lincoln Park, Grosse Pointe, Sterling Heights, Rochester, Monroe, Dearborn, Royal Oak, Westland and beyond. With support from faculty and industry mentors, teams spent weeks designing and creating robots, with specific emphasis on incorporating sustainable energy into their plans. Robots competed in a variety of tasks, and the winning teams advanced to the state championship competition, to be held April 6.
Ninety-four students in grades 3 through 12 registered to compete in the third annual Wayne County regional competition of Invention Convention Michigan, to present an original invention designed to solve a problem. With support from Wayne State’s regional hub, students worked under the guidance of their educators for weeks or months ahead of the competition, completing logbooks, prototypes, display boards and a recorded pitch video. The students delivered their pitches in person and answered judges’ questions on the spot. Thirty-six students representing the top-scoring projects advanced to the state competition, hosted at The Henry Ford on April 29.