At its inaugural meeting on February 8 th the long-awaited launch of Authentic-STEM took place online with over 100 of the project’s participants in attendance including 10 GISW 9 th graders.
This initiative is a binational collaboration involving 70 students in the US and Germany, representing 7 schools – three American and four German, and organized into 10 binational teams, as well as participating companies and advisors in both countries. Students’ participation is supported by mentoring provided by university students and faculty from the math departments of the University of Siegen and Clarkson University.
The objective of the project is to help students learn systemic approaches to contemporary problem solving, develop intercultural communication and interdisciplinary skills as they collaborate in solving an actual problem of a regional company that operates internationally. Besides those benefits, any one of the participating companies may be a current student’s future employer.
GISW students, under the mentorship of their Math teacher Andreas Haider, are on three of the ten “solver teams” and will be working with three of the participating companies, specifically ALSCO, TMD Friction and OnSemi.
Assistant Professor Jenny Magnus from Siegen University was MC for the virtual kick-off of Authentic-STEM and introduced the organizers. Jorden LeBlanc from North Country Workforce Partnership Inc. (NCWP) described the many ways that open-ended business problems presented by companies are beneficial to the students selected to participate. For example, the opportunity to test hypotheses, overcome challenges and receive authoritative feedback from the companies provides them a sense of autonomy they didn’t have before. NCWP Executive Director Sylvia Nelson remarked that “Authentic-STEM provides students with a kind of learning you can’t find in a textbook.”
Next, the participating companies were introduced: ALSCO Uniforms, BETA Technologies, TDM Friction and OnSemi, followed by student-produced videos some of which featured rhymed lyrics.
The highlight of the launch was the much anticipated presentation of the problems the students will be working on in the coming months. The solver teams met in separate virtual break-out rooms with company representatives and mentors from the universities to discuss the tasks ahead and to do some initial brainstorming.
By early June we may see for ourselves the success of this project when the solver teams present their results in an innovation forum. In the meantime we wish all GISW participants good ideas, perseverance and a lot of fun!