At UCF, K-12 and STEM initiatives are coordinated by Alex Navarro, a Graduate Research Assistant, in cooperation with the College of Engineering and Computer Science Diversity Office.
For the third year running, the University of Central Florida has hosted Camp Connect, a week-long science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) camp for students in the eighth through tenth grades. The camp, which hosted minority students at the main UCF campus, was divided into two portions. The first, called Camp Connect I: Plant the Seed, was geared towards new students who had not taken part in the activities before, while Camp Connect II: Get Rooted and Camp Connect III: The “E” in STEM for Returning Campers were geared towards graduates of Camp Connect I who had been invited to attend. Camp Connects II and III provided the participants with deeper, more “hands-on” experience engaging in projects, working with professional engineers, and touring local laboratories.
As always, NCTSPM is proud to partner with UCF in their work to bring engineering education to all students.
In February of 2013, elementary school students spent time at UCF learning about transportation engineering through Project CREATE, a dedicated elementary school outreach program. Student mentoring continues throughout the school year preceding the program, which took place on February 19th of 2013.
Images courtesy of Jennifer McDaniel
Project CREATE gives children in the fourth and fifth grades an understanding of what engineering is and what engineers do, and it does so in an accessible and tangible way. Through the efforts of Mr. Navarro and the program, students engage in creative problem solving, in hopes of stirring their interest in careers in engineering.
Camp Connect , a summer engineering exploration program for eighth through tenth grade students, is also offered by UCF. It has been held a total of three times, with students from the 2012 Camp Connect returning in July of 2013 to further their understanding. Camp Connect is to be held again in July of 2014, from the 21st through the 25th. Students typically come from groups and communities underrepresented in the world of engineering, and through Camp Connect receive exposure to engineering they might not otherwise have.
The program introduces students to many different disciplines within civil and environmental engineering, as they participate in presentations and activities, tour laboratories, and gain insight into the lives of engineering students and professionals. Camp Connect works to provide a method of exploration and preparation advice for beginning students’ college careers through networking with students and faculty at UCF as well as with their peers.
For the last two years, a game called Reservation Road Planner has been an integral part of students’ Camp Connect experience. This method of outreach to middle school and high school students was donated through the Federal Highway Administration, through the coordination of Michelle Noch, to further student understanding of transportation engineering. The game takes students step by step through the obstacles associated with the transportation planning process, after first being presented with the basics of transportation engineering and the role of transportation engineers in the community.
Images courtesy of Alex Navarro
Students work through the activity with the goal of completing their individual project first, choosing a project and taking it through five phases of realization, including development, project inventory inclusion, funding, preconstruction and construction. Through interactive experiences such as Reservation Road Planner, students are entertained and educated concurrently, allowing them to better grasp key concepts of the workings of the transportation planning process.
For more information on Camp Connect, see UCF's Report to the FHWA on Camp Connect.