Sparking Girls' Interest in STEM
Local Lockheed Martin Canada employees in Victoria, BC have an impressively vibrant STEM Council, led by Luc Gelinas, a Senior Systems Integration Analyst.
15% of Lockheed Martin Canada’s employee base in the area are engaged in volunteering to encourage interest in STEM among local youth.
One of the projects that Mr. Gelinas and his team are engaged in is hosting weekly Soldering 101 classes at a local school for girls, St. Margaret’s, where they worked with the school’s STEM Program Support Teacher, Lauren Hudson, to develop a program that would teach students new applied and practical skills.
Mr. Gelinas explains what is involved. “To understand the basics of soldering, they initially learned to solder small flashing medallions. This prepared them for bigger projects, like soldering solar-powered cars – called Solarbotics Speedsters. The kids find this hands-on work engaging and the level of knowledge displayed by some of the students of electronics and robotics has been impressive!”
He adds that the students are eager to start working on their projects, proud of their achievements, and learning valuable skills like perseverance and how to deal with both success and failure.
Ms Hudson underlines the positive impact of the program. “Having an expert work with the teachers provides a unique learning opportunity. What a fabulous way to expose students to different skills and spread STEM learning! And the children are having fun while they learn. I am very grateful to the Lockheed Martin Canada staff who have come to St. Margaret's for the soldering lessons. The time they have dedicated to exposing and supporting to support STEM in the community is time well spent!”
“Having an expert work with the teachers provides a unique learning opportunity. What a fabulous way to expose students to different skills and spread STEM learning!" Lauren Hudson, STEM Program Support Teacher
On the foundation of this success, bigger projects are now in the works. Lockheed Martin Canada’s Victoria STEM Council is working towards hosting a STEM Olympics. “At the beginning of the school year, we organized a meeting with the school district superintendents, explaining what the STEM council could do for them and asking what they needed. The general consensus was they wanted a project that would foster a little competition while promoting STEM skillsets. And so the STEM Olympics were born.”
The STEM Olympics will feature three disciplines using the solar powered cars: longest distance covered from a cold start; longest successful jump and landing; and modification of the cars to change some of parameters influencing the original results (bigger wheels, different components affecting the charging rate, etc.).
“Just think of all the STEM learning that these kids will be exposed to through the competition!” says Mr. Gelinas. “It is the kind of thing that fans that spark of interest in a career in STEM -- exactly the kind of impact that those of us who volunteer on the Council want to have.”