September 19, 2017 SparkShop directors Shonali Ditz and Tiernan Murrell, along with Ted Ganchiff, founder of the Science & Entrepreneurship Exchange (SEE) presented the SparkShop STEM program to politicians, educators and manufacturing association representatives.
Manufacturers and other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) field professionals are grappling with shortages of young people joining their professions. Of those high school students proficient in math and science, only 16% express an interest in pursing STEM careers, according to a recent survey.
SparkShop has created a curriculum to capture the interest of students while they are the most open and creative - in the 4th and 5th grades, and is looking to partner with schools, teachers and professionals in STEM career fields like manufacturers, to expose more of our future workforce to these opportunities. Over the past 6 years they've impacted over 1300 students, including these young female winners of a design competition who participated in Innovation Alive.
In student surveys following program participation, 83% said they have a greater desire to be an engineer someday. Passion for STEM is definitely more "caught" than "taught," and the directors, both with engineering degrees and real-world experience have what it takes to inspire the kids to think about their options. By the nature of the job, elementary educators rarely have this kind of inspirational experience and knowledge about STEM careers. The SparkShop program partners with them providing resources including curriculum and a hands-on mobile lab that comes to students with equipment that schools may not be able to afford, like 3D printers.
Pioneer Service was pleased to be a bridge between these young entrepreneurs and the partners that they need to launch in more schools in the Chicagoland region. Particpants in the SparkShop event also took a tour at Pioneer Service to learn how precision machined parts are made and checked. James Rewis, Quality Manager, demonstrated various methods of checking parts.
The event was attended by Congressman Randy Hultgren, a representative from Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, Addison Mayor Rich Veenstra as well as a number of representatives from the Village of Addison school district and associations including the Valley Industrial Association, Technology & Manufacturing Association, Illinois Manufacturer's Association and the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center. Photography for the event was donated by Creative Technology. Thank you to everyone who participated to make this event such a success!