Students Get Hands-On Experience With STEM Careers

Sep 9, 2014

Middle-school students build ping-pong ball launchers Tuesday out of wooden craft sticks, plastic spoons and rubber bands at Tulsa's first STEM Exploratorium.
Credit Matt Trotter / KWGS

Build ping-pong ball launchers as a kid … grow up to build airplanes.

More than 1,000 area students experienced various science, technology, engineering and math careers at Tulsa’s first STEM Exploratorium. Bailey Siegfried with event sponsor Tulsa Flight Night said activities like Lego building are similar to what professionals are doing.

"We wanted to create a program, an event for students that showed them that what they're inspired by actually leads into a job and a career," Siegfried said. "If I was playing with Legos growing up, I wish somebody said, 'Keep playing with Legos,' and I might have become an engineer."

Dozens of organizations and companies participated, including Boeing, Google and Honeywell. Xan Black with Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance said having kids meet professionals in those careers can encourage them to explore new options.

"Knowing somebody — you know, whether it's at Saint Francis or Honeywell or Google — is a game-changer because they can see, 'Oh, well I know somebody who does this, and maybe I can do it too and maybe there is a purpose to going ahead with all this difficult math and science," Black said.

Tulsa Tech hosted the STEM Exploratorium.