AlamogordoTownNews.com News from the Stem Learning Center
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs, like those at our STEM Learning Center, Alamogordo, prepare youth for STEM careers and build not only technical skills but the problem-solving, collaboration, and innovation experience they need to be successful in life and even create a better world for all of us.
“So many of the problems we encounter today need technological solutions,” Fred “PHred” Stong explains. Stong was a systems engineer at The Boeing Company, an American multinational aerospace and defense conglomerate. He mentors FIRSTÒ Team 5613, ThunderDogs, and Team 8528, AstorChimps.
“Even our non-technical problems require big data; the same goes for big breakthroughs in energy, transportation, or our ability to continue to observe our universe,” said Stong.
The Learning Center uses robotics-based programs to expose its members to global challenges and encourages them to do their part to be problem solvers. One example, we participate in the annual FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) seasons which are themed around the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. They encourage participants’ critical thinking and innovation across a breadth of worldwide issues, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice.
“These challenges not only provide our members an opportunity to demonstrate their STEM and life skill knowledge but get them thinking about how technology can address critical community, national, and global problems,” Stong reports. “Mentorship provides the critical piece that helps members target their learning.”
Learning Center members develop strategies for addressing complex challenges by working with enthusiastic, experienced mentors who are professionals in STEM fields.
“Mentors are there when work gets challenging to help members navigate problems, find solutions, and discover their resiliency,” said Stong. “Youth—especially those from underrepresented, underserved, and vulnerable populations—struggle to envision themselves in STEM fields. Mentorship can combat this self-doubt and help members discover their path and sense of belonging in challenging careers."
Learning Center members develop a solution-based mentality and are armed with problem-solving skills, empowering them to make a direct impact on their communities and the world around them.
FIRSTÒ Team 5613, the ThunderDogs, formed in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in 2016 as an FRC team and later worked with Children In Need of Services (CHINS) to establish FRC Team 8528, the AstroChimps. Team members design and fabricate devices to improve their “Skill of acquiring SkillsTM” and demonstrate their knowledge at local community events to help bring new members into the program.
Opportunities provided at the Learning Center are contributing to a new generation of much-needed problem-solvers. By creating more people that get excited, that say, ‘This is what I want to do, I want to develop technology,’ we are creating a group of people who are primed to solve tough problems.
STEM Learning Center members supply ample proof that young people don’t have to wait until they graduate high school or get a job in a STEM industry to make a difference. They can start now by picking up the skills they need for success in STEM and life. Members learn to not wait for anything; when given the opportunity to do something amazing, they do it. Members don’t have to wait. In fact, waiting is the worst thing you can do. Be open to new experiences and believe in yourself.
To learn more about the STEM Learning Center, call (575) 265-0008
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