Nevaen Napier, a seventh-grader at T.K. Stone Middle School, studied her own shoe before making a sketch of it Tuesday.
The sketch is the first step in a project to design a shoe sole. Nevaen and other students worked on the project during Elizabethtown Independent Schools’ first STEM-tastic sumMIT, a two-day workshop. The workshop continues today.
Nevaen said she came to the summit because she wanted to try science, technology, engineering and math.
“It’s awesome,” she said of the summitt, adding she loved everything about it.
About 40 seventh- and eighth-graders from T.K. Stone attended the workshop at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College. The middle school students worked with mentors from Elizabethtown High School to design the sole and make a mold of it. They’ll later test it.
Elizabethtown retailer Running Soles assisted with the workshop. Students learned about their own gait and the mechanics of a foot while walking or running.
Susan Ryan, the district’s workforce readiness coordinator, organized the summit, which introduced the girls to STEM. Ryan said they used curriculum from an after-school program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Seventh-graders Jillian Sarver and Emma Musgrave said they liked the workshop because they could meet new people and get to know high schoolers. Emma said she preferred hands-on experiences to sitting in class along with the creativity and problem-solving aspects of the project.
Jillian said she’s participated in other STEM-related programs in the district. She said she applied to the workshop so she could do hands-on activities and have fun.
“I like how it doesn’t mean you are definitely going into a career pathway or into it professionally,” she said.
Elizabethtown High School senior Carly Cox, who is in the information technology pathway at the school, said she didn’t discover her interest in technology until high school. As a workshop mentor, she wanted to tell participants about STEM and opportunities available.
“I’m looking forward to really helping girls and seeing how they think and do things,” Cox said. “They are the next generation.”
Elizabethtown sophomore Kaitlyn Brandenburg said she didn’t have hands-on opportunities when she was in middle school. She talked with students in her group about how engineering jobs are opening and about an increase in scholarships.
“You will get a job,” Brandenburg said.
She said she became interested in STEM because she likes building. She wants to work for NASA.
Maria Tenorio, a seventh-grader in Brandenburg’s group, said she wanted to learn more about science, so she applied for the workshop.
“(I like) just working and knowing I have designed a shoe sole and feeling accomplished,” she said.