Very soon, area students can design a tool for an astronaut, code the motions of a small robot named “Dash,” or learn to retrieve and interpret satellite data by contacting earth orbiting satellites, just by boarding a very special bus.
The University of Bridgeport will unveil STEM on Wheels, a mobile laboratory for learning and exploration and Connecticut’s first STEM bus to the community, at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018.
The ribbon cutting will be held on the University’s Pedestrian Mall in front of Charles Dana Hall, 169 University Avenue, Bridgeport, CT.
Members of the public are invited to attend.
The bus will begin its pilot year working with four Bridgeport area schools and additional STEM programs with UB’s partner, the Discovery Museum. The area schools include Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School, Geraldine Claytor Magnet Academy, the Discovery Interdistrict Magnet School and the Bridgeport Military Academy.
The mobile laboratory will provide hands-on lessons in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to students in kindergarten through grade 12. Its route will then expand to schools throughout Bridgeport and Fairfield County.
“The University of Bridgeport believes in the limitless possibilities of students of all ages. That’s why we are especially pleased to unveil STEM on Wheels, the first STEM bus for Connecticut,” said University of Bridgeport President Laura Skandera Trombley.
“STEM on Wheels is truly a collaborative venture,” Trombley added. “To that end, we are pleased to thank our donors and sponsors at Connecticut Health & Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA), Greater Bridgeport Transit (GBT), NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium, and Kubtec Scientific, all of whom helped rev this wonderful learning vehicle into action.”
GBT made a former city bus available to the University, which was awarded a $75,000 CHEFA grant to retrofit and equip the vehicle into a mobile STEM classroom and lab space.
“It was an asset that reached the end of its public service life, so we’re happy that it can have a life beyond that. 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.
From Nov. 2018 to April 2019, STEM on Wheels will make weekly stops to one Bridgeport public school per month, serving elementary, middle, or high school students at each campus.
“This is going to be awesome. The second the kids see the bus, they are going to lose their minds,” said Roosevelt School Principal Jackie Simmons. “We do things in the classroom, but with resources for labs being cut, the idea of bringing STEM to life with expertise from the university, which has been a great partner to us, will be a win-win-win. To be actively engaged through hands-on learning, is what it’s all about, especially in the 21st century. These kids are not used to just reading a book. Science has to be brought to life.”
Discovery Museum COO John Chamberlain said: “Discovery Museum has been delighted to have this unique opportunity to partner with our friends at University of Bridgeport on the design, retrofit, and planning for a brand new STEM on Wheels bus to come to the Greater Bridgeport community and beyond. The bus will visit the Museum on Wednesdays this fall, giving us a dynamic new space where young people can join us to explore science, technology, engineering, and math through hands-on activities.”
Chamberlain added that many of the jobs of the future will require STEM skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving, and this bus will transport students to new destinations of learning and exploration.
Dr. Tarek M. Sobh, executive vice president at the University and dean of the College of Engineering, Business and Education, conceived of the idea of a STEM bus in Connecticut. “STEM on Wheels enables us to direct precious resources into equipment and materials to equip kids with STEM skills that they need to be competitive. These kinds of buses are fun, popular—and most of all—they’ve proven to be an incredibly effective way to engage students,” Sobh said.
Ruba Deeb, PhD, director of biomedical research at UB, is the principal investigator and director of the project. Excited by the potential of the STEM on Wheels mobile laboratory, Deeb pulled together a passionate team of UB faculty, all experienced in K-12 STEM outreach. Each one volunteered to contribute specialized curriculum, which utilizes state-of-the art technology and provides learning opportunities through exploration.
“The STEM bus partners have a common goal to assist elementary through high school students achieve STEM literacy that will assist them thrive in the 21st century, both personally and professionally,” Deeb said.
During its inaugural year, the STEM on Wheels activities will include coding, robotics, imaging technology, mechatronics (a meld of mechanics and electronics), 3D printing, remote sensing, developing satellite orbits and contacting satellites through a ground station.
“These will be highly engaging lessons for students that they typically would not see in their regular classroom so we’re very all excited about this initiative,” said Nancy DeJarnette, director of elementary education at UB School of Education, who coordinated the K-12 curriculum for STEM on Wheels.
Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625, email@example.com