STEM Tuesdays

CenterPoint Newsletter | January 2017 | by Nicole Garrison, Nicole Garrison for Upward Bound Math & Science Center

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STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) has become one of the fastest growing occupational fields and with the advancement of technology and the increase of its everyday use, it has become a hot commodity. Every Tuesday during the six-week Summer Residential Program (SRP), nicknamed STEM Tuesday, The Upward Bound Math & Science Center’s (UBMSC) participants explored the exciting field of robotics.

Partnering with Skybot Challenge’s Chairman, Alphesia Thomas, and fellow board members Catherine Schell and Gabe Quiroz, UBMSC students learned to code and fly parrot and UDI drones. A drone competition was held during the third week of the summer program to test the students to code and successfully fly drones around obstacle courses. During the weeks leading up to the competition, students worked tirelessly in groups assigning roles, such as pilots, coders, builders, etc., and making calculations based on obstacle dimensions. One obstacle in particular was composed of two parts: building an arch bridge with using only wooden pieces, and the second part entailed flying a parrot drone over and around the bridge. There were many moving parts and numerous UNLV faculty, staff, and students who helped make this competition a success. Dr. David James, UNLV Associate Professor and Director of the Solar and Renewable Energy Programs, along with Dr. Donald Hayes, UNLV Civil and Environmental Engineering and Construction Chair and Professor, as well as UNLV’s Howard R Hughes College of Engineering Department’s Student Ambassadors all assisted in facilitating the event.

Following the drone competition, students were exposed to another aspect of robotics and technology. UBMSC students had the opportunity to work exclusively with Jimmy Marlett, County Surveyor, and his team of land surveyors from the Clark County Department of Public Works to survey the New York New York Hotel & Casino, Paris Hotel & Casino, and the Stratosphere Tower. Students used surveying equipment to calculate the distance and height of each building, incorporating geometry and trigonometry in real world applications. Additionally, students were able to work with Cooper Medraza, UNLV Department of Engineering’s Lab Assistant, to program and code miniature robots to travel on command.

STEM Tuesdays concluded with a symposium where students presented their group business models and plans for their drone businesses, incorporating the concepts they learned during Backpacks to Briefcases and the SRP overall. From professionally developed business pitches to catchy jingles, it was evident that students took an interest in and enjoyed learning about robotics and STEM in general. With the popularity of STEM Tuesdays, the UBMSC is excited to reveal next summer’s STEM Tuesday theme.

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