More than 3,000 Federal Way Public Schools students, families and community members attended the first annual STEM Exploration Night on Feb. 23 at Federal Way High School.
This event invited all attendees to experience career pathways in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Washington state ranks No. 1 nationally in the concentration of STEM-related jobs, yet the state ranks 47th in degrees to pursue these fields.
In the last 10 years, growth in STEM jobs has been three times greater than non-STEM jobs, and the average salary for STEM jobs at $85,570, is nearly double the average salary, $47,230, for all occupations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
“We want our students to start preparing now to access these high-demand, high-wage college and career pathways,” Dr. Tammy Campbell, FWPS superintendent, said. “The goal of STEM Exploration Night is for scholars to walk away with knowledge and direction in whatever career path they may choose, and steps on how to get there. Events like these can change the trajectory for our scholars, and spark an interest in a subject area they had not previously known existed.”
The event focused on highlighting five high-demand STEM career pathways in the greater Puget Sound region:
• Computer science;
• Environmental science;
• Health science; and
• Manufacturing and construction.
More than 80 booths were present, including local colleges and businesses, to provide information about STEM related opportunities.
Attendees included Boeing, McKinstry, Google, Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, Hexcel, University of Washington Tacoma and Highline College.
Attendees were able to interact with the FIRST Robotics program from Federal Way High School and nationally-ranked Thomas Jefferson High School.
Attendees also had the chance to take turns operating a robot that TAF Academy middle school FIRST Tech Challenge students built.
In addition, FWPS middle school students offered attendees opportunities to program sumo bots to push an opponent out of the ring, and program robots to do “the wave.”
FWPS lighthouse schools — Nautilus K–8 and Woodmont K–8 — displayed the project based STEM learning opportunities available at their school sites.
Woodmont’s engineering challenge tasked students with building a bridge out of drinking straws to span a certain distance and bear a specific amount of weight.
Prior to the event, Nautilus students used the “rube goldberg” machine model which asks participants to over-engineer a device to perform a simple task in a complicated fashion, generally including a chain reaction.
Teams of Nautilus students each built a segment of one machine and then came together as a class to figure out how to combine each segment so that a marble could travel through the entire machine.