COD STEM Impact Grant Promotes Unique Experiences and Outreach Through Campus Clubs/Organizations

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By Mike McKissack

Students involved in College of DuPage clubs and organizations are benefitting from hands-on experiences and opportunities in fields related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) thanks to the College’s STEM Impact Grant.

The grant, launched during the 2017-2018 academic year, provides up to $500 annually to COD STEM-focused student clubs/organizations wanting to engage in unique or innovative programs, collaborations or outreach.  

Inspired by a fascination he has had with physics and outer space since childhood, Herven Barham (Aurora) and fellow members of the Engineering and Technology Club used grant resources to launch a high-altitude science balloon to the outer edge of the earth’s atmosphere. View photos from the science balloon launch.

“I thought it would be cool to send up a camera to get amazing pictures, as well as track and take measurements of data including radiation, temperature and pressure as the balloon rose,” he said.

Featuring a point-and-shoot digital camera, a video camera, a Geiger counter and a barometer, the balloon’s payload also included two GPS trackers, enabling the students to track the flight and locate the equipment once it returned to earth.

“My long-term goal is to one day have the privilege to work on rockets and rocket engines. This project was a great educational experience that reinforced my passion for space and engineering,” Barham said.

Society of Women Engineers COD Chapter President Nicole Amon (Glendale Heights) said SWE members used grant funding to provide a unique educational experience for Girl Scouts seeking badges, culminating with the scouts learning to code robots.

“With each activity, the girls learned a little bit more about coding and robots,” she said. “By the end of the day, they were very interested in programming and learning more about what they could do with it.”

Amon said the event provided a fun experience that could unlock a lifelong interest in STEM for participants.

“I think these events are important because at a young age, children have capabilities to absorb and learn anything,” she said. “These events in particular are great because they provide hands-on experience to explore the STEM field where they wouldn’t otherwise get the opportunity.”

Learn more about STEM programming at College of DuPage.