Saturday, May 19, 2018
By Jordyn Grzelewski
At one station, students excitedly followed robots roaming the gymnasium floor.
At another, they stood in rapt attention as they learned how a powerful adhesive works.
Groups were enthralled as one demonstrator blew smoke from his nose, like a fire-breathing dragon.
The goal of the first Early Genius K-4 STEM event at Stadium Drive Elementary was to get students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics at a young age.
Based on the enthusiastic exclamations, hands busy at work, and wide eyes around the school Friday, it seemed to succeed.
The two-day event, which the school organized in partnership with Ken Timmings, owner of KTSDI, a North Lima engineering company that services the trucking industry, and father of a Stadium Drive student, featured more than 20 volunteers from manufacturing businesses and STEM program providers.
Timmings’ work has often taken him to European countries, where he says STEM curriculum is taught much earlier than in the U.S.
“They get these kids at kindergarten,” he said. “Our model right now in the States is to grab these kids when they go to high school. That’s not early enough,” he said.
Principal Michael Zoccali said he hopes Early Genius grows interest in these types of programs.
“That’s all we want to do is get them thinking outside the box,” he said.
Timmings’ interest in the program also comes from firsthand experience with the gap between STEM jobs and workers with the proper training to fill them.
“We have a dire need,” he said. “If we’re going to make America great again, like our president wants, we need to make our workforce education great again.”
At one table, Noah Iafigliola with the Henkel Corp. did demonstrations with Loctite, a brand of industrial adhesive.
A group of four girls listened attentively as he encouraged them to be creative and not be afraid to test different ways of doing something.
Among them was fourth-grader Jordyn Miller, who said she wants to be a robotics engineer someday.
“I really like robots and stuff like that,” she said. “And I want to help people who don’t have arms and legs, and I can make them.”
At Rockwell Automation’s table, fourth-grader Olivia Combis did an demonstration with a robot.
“I think this is really cool,” she said.