After years of planning, STEM on Wheels, the state’s first traveling bus for learning and exploration, was unveiled to the public on November 1 at the University of Bridgeport.
Starting November 2, STEM on Wheels, a retrofitted Greater Bridgeport Transit bus loaded with a 3D printers, remote sensors, a small robot named “Dash,” and other scientific equipment, will deliver hands-on lessons in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to students in kindergarten through grade 12.
It also will stop at the Discovery Museum, one of several institutions that partnered with the University of Bridgeport to rev STEM on Wheels into motion.
University of Bridgeport President Laura Skandera Trombley said, “An education that engages the world through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics enables our youth to ask the kinds of questions that not only connect our shared humanity today but understand the infinite possibilities of tomorrow—our students and youth will pursue careers in fields that have not been thought of yet.”
By climbing aboard STEM on Wheels, students will be able to design a tool for an astronaut, learn to code the motions of a robot, or retrieve and interpret satellite data by contacting earth orbiting satellites.
Other activities will include imaging technology, mechatronics (a meld of mechanics and electronics), 3D printing, and remote sensing.
“To be actively engaged through hands-on learning is what it’s all about, especially in the 21st century,” said Jackie Simmons, principal of the Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School in Bridgeport, where STEM on Wheels will make its first stop on Friday, November 2. “Science has to be brought to life.”
In addition to the Roosevelt School, STEM on Wheels will travel to three other Bridgeport area schools during its pilot year: Geraldine Claytor Magnet Academy, the Discovery Interdistrict Magnet School, and the Bridgeport Military Academy.
Its will then expand its route 50 miles from Bridgeport to serve schools throughout Fairfield County.
Discovery Museum Executive Director Bill Finch thanked the University for “spearheading this venture.”
Noting that women are under-represented in STEM-related fields, Finch added, “We’re excited, because every time a kid gets on this bus, it’s much more likely that she will be an astronaut, that she will be a doctor, that she will be a lab technician, that she will be an engineer.”
Greater Bridgeport Transit made a former city bus available to the University, which was awarded a $75,000 Connecticut Health & Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA) grant to retrofit and equip the vehicle into a mobile STEM classroom and lab space. The Connecticut Space Grant Consortium awarded $12,000 to train University of Bridgeport undergraduate students who will co-teach on the bus. Kubtec Scientific donated X-ray technology equipment.
“The importance of encouraging STEM work in the region is enormous, and to be a part of that is great,” said GBT General Manager Doug Holcomb.
Dr. Tarek M. Sobh, who originally proposed the bus two years ago and is dean of the College of Engineering, Business, and Education at the University of Bridgeport, said mobile labs like STEM on Wheels, help to prepare students “for jobs that haven’t even been invented yet. . . . They’ve proven to be an incredibly effective way to engage students.”
Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625, firstname.lastname@example.org
Erica Eng, (203) 372-3521, email@example.com