The Siemens Corporation is driving STEAM education in FISD by partnering with the District to help create future transportation design engineers, informed drivers who will look for vehicles that are environmentally designed and technologically literate students of the future.
Frisco ISD honored Siemens with the District’s Partners in Education Award during the regular April School Board meeting. Accepting the award was John Miller, senior vice president for Siemens PLM Software.
This much-appreciated Partner in Education is working with Frisco ISD schools to bring the real world into the hands of young innovators, said Allison Miller, director of Frisco Education Foundation and Partners in Education for Frisco ISD.
Earlier this year, Siemens made a donation of $9,000 through the Frisco Education Foundation to promote the Siemens Greenpower program at an FISD campus. The donation was directed to Scoggins Middle School and science teacher Nancy Gardner. Teams of students were able to work with two Greenpower single-seat electric car kits to gain hands-on experience, from putting the tires together to wiring the engine and assembling the steering column. The completed Greenpower cars were demonstrated in March at the Scoggins STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) Night. The cars were a huge hit with parents and students.
“Siemens and the Solid Edge Team enjoyed working with the incredible teachers and volunteers at Scoggins Middle School to bring the Greenpower Program to students,” Miller said. “It is our hope that these students will be encouraged and motivated to investigate careers in STEAM by using the Greenpower vehicles. Building these vehicles help to create real engagement around the topics they are currently learning in their classes. When we met Nancy and learned about her creative approach to engaging students with real world projects to inspire them, we knew we had the right partner to introduce Greenpower and Solid Edge to the Frisco ISD.”
As with all projects, young engineers at Scoggins say they learned a lot while working on the cars – from teamwork to accepting each other’s mistakes.
Nate Uglialoro said the hardest part of putting the kit together was putting the bearings on the steering column. After struggling for a while, his team realized that one of their team members had misread the instructions.
“It made it difficult, but we figured it out,” he said.
For Aaron Kocurek, the most frustrating part of building the cars was learning to communicate as a team and be organized. It was hard to step back and “let other people assemble,” he said. Everyone wanted to work on assembly.
Anusha Kashyapa, whose petite fingers made her an excellent candidate for getting in and working on wiring, said she discovered the challenge of reading a diagram. The team did have professional engineers visit, observe and sometimes offer suggestions. Some had connections to Siemens and some were school volunteers.
Ethan Wheeler said his team had some setbacks.
“Beginning with all the nuts and bolts being scattered around, we spent a week getting organized,” he said. “We also didn’t have a tire spoon and I almost killed my hands putting a tire together.”
While the students discussed issues they had figuring out the kit parts, one young man explained that he had accidentally thrown away important padding for the framework of one of the cars. It had looked like packing material to him. As a result of that innocent mistake, one of the cars has only outside panels, with no padding between it and the driver.
Gardner was thrilled that her students got to build the cars, but she also was excited that the students had a chance to show them off and demonstrate them at the STEAM event, which drew a crowd of parents but also younger students from the elementary schools that feed into Scoggins.
The STEAM night displays, such as the cars, were a great way to inspire students to explore science and engineering as they move into higher grades, she said. STEAM night, which included other great student projects, was funded in part by generous donations from the Frisco Education Foundation’s Grants for Great Ideas program.
“I was so glad when Ms. Gardner brought this unique idea and opportunity to our campus and our kids,” said Scoggins Principal Barb Warner. “I have absolutely loved seeing the way in which our students have been able to explore their own passions and interests in the STEAM fields, and am so appreciative to our teachers and parents, as well as our community and business partners and vertical elementary campuses, for taking the time to come out and support our students in such relevant learning experiences.”
Scoggins’ first STEAM Night was not a competition, but a showcase of student projects that required hands-on learning activities. Gardner stressed that the event also brought out other business representatives and community members to see what FISD students such as the ones at Scoggins are capable of achieving – such as constructing the Greenpower cars.
“The goal of STEAM Night is for students to have fun, explore and experience STEAM in the real world,” she said.
The Siemens Greenpower Challenge has certainly powered up the imaginations of the students at Scoggins.