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Science is Everywhere at Project STEM Field Day

August 11, 2016

With a few simple materials, volunteers introduced the concept of jet propulsion to students in a fun and interactive way.
Pratt & Whitney volunteers had fun running the 12 immersive activity stations offered at Project STEM’s Field Day.
Science is everywhere. Approximately 60 Pratt & Whitney volunteers were able to share their love for the STEM fields with approximately 120 middle school students from across Connecticut.
Students had the opportunity to experience oobleck, a non-Newtonian fluid. When they ran across the substance, it felt sturdy under their feet; however, when they walked more slowly, their feet sunk into the liquid.
Volunteers encouraged students to test surface area by constructing boats out of aluminum foil and popsicle sticks.
Students and volunteers get their hands dirty as they learn about the scientific properties of oobleck, a substance that can exhibit both liquid and solid properties.

On July 30, approximately 60 Pratt & Whitney volunteers came together to inspire the next generation in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields at Pratt & Whitney’s third annual Project STEM Field Day. The event, which drew approximately 120 students from 60 schools throughout Connecticut, offered 12 interactive activities that simulated STEM career fields such as chemical engineering, electrical engineering and visual computer science.

Matt Klompas, an externals design engineer at Pratt & Whitney and event coordinator for Pratt & Whitney’s Project STEM, and Austin Poucher, a materials engineer at Pratt & Whitney and secretary for Pratt & Whitney’s Project STEM, echo the importance of inspiring the next generation. “We like getting them involved in some of the other science activities just to get them thinking about a STEM career cause Matt and I both chose STEM careers so we want to give back and show how much we enjoy it,” said Poucher.

Pratt & Whitney employees had fun running each station and showing the students how science is everywhere. While certain volunteers taught about non-Newtonian fluids, others encouraged students to build flashlights out of electric snap circuits and to test surface area by constructing boats out of aluminum foil and popsicle sticks. Who knew a single square foot of aluminum foil could be used to hold upwards of 400-500 pennies!

“It is really exciting to see how enthusiastic kids are about being a part of Project STEM’s events … [and] seeing the excitement on their faces when we give them an idea of what it’s like to be a scientist or an engineer,” said Camden Mamigonian, a software/computational engineer at Pratt & Whitney and president of Pratt & Whitney’s Project STEM.

“I made bridges in 7th grade and I made rockets, and I thought it was a really neat experience. I’m trying to give back to the kids, and setting up a field day like this really gets the kids interested,” said Lauren Brumbaugh, a materials engineer at Pratt & Whitney and founder of Pratt & Whitney’s Project STEM. “I really think it’s important for their future to get excited about STEM and hopefully [they will] become an engineer, like I did.”

While Saturday marked Project STEM’s largest annual event, the group organizes about 15 events a year, visiting local schools with interactive presentations that encourage students to have fun with science and engineering concepts. Since the group’s founding in 2014, Project STEM has positively impacted hundreds of middle school students in the greater Hartford community.

“In fact, there’s one time I was at a school visit, we were wrapping up by the end of the day, and one student stood up in front of the whole class and said, ‘When I grow up I want to work at Pratt & Whitney’ – and that’s really why I do this,” said Mamigonian.

Events such as Project STEM's Field Day empower Pratty & Whitney employees to foster curiosity in the minds of younger generations.