Making STEM a snap
Students discover math and science at MathMovesU Days
The challenge: Construct six different circuits, advancing from one that interprets Morse code to a more complex build that plays different tunes. The engineers: more than 200 middle school students from multiple schools in Tucson, Arizona. Their coaches: 29 engineers from Raytheon's Engineering Leadership Development Program.
The project was part of the company's MathMovesU Day, held Feb. 4 at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Raytheon's event encouraged student interest in science, technology, engineering and math, commonly known as STEM.
“It doesn’t matter if you want to be an engineer, lawyer or doctor. Having a science foundation is critical to everything you do going forward,” said Dr. Thomas Bussing, the keynote speaker at Tucson's MathMovesU Day and vice president of Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems. “There is no better way to aspire in our country than through math and science.”
MathMovesU gives students from diverse backgrounds the chance to meet leaders in STEM fields and test their skills with engineering challenges. The event, now in its 14th year, is part of Raytheon’s $125 million investment in STEM education initiatives.
Raytheon engineers volunteered at the event to help students complete multiple system builds, inspections and acceptance tests, helping the students understand the oversight required of engineers.
“I like that all the parts move in sync whenever you connect it correctly,” said Jesus Ramirez, a student at Apollo Middle School. “It helps you begin thinking about engineering.”
Ramirez, who started building circuits using a similar kit when he was eight, said the event affirmed his interest in becoming an engineer. In the future, he hopes to build robots that will help the environment.
Dr. Christian d’Aubigny, a deputy instrument scientist for the OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft’s OCAMS camera, talked to students about building components to propel spacecraft to distant worlds. A guest panel representing University of Arizona faculty and students, and early-career engineers also answered questions about working in STEM.
Raytheon held another MathMovesU Day event in Huntsville, Alabama, on Feb. 12. For the last five years, the company has teamed with the University of Alabama in Huntsville to host a hands-on learning event for local fifth-graders. Students designed, constructed and tested an air-launched rocket this year.
“Math is the tool that lets you understand science, and science is the understanding of the universe around you,” Bussing said. “If you can look at the world that way, you can accomplish great things.”