WRPS volunteers bring excitement to STEM summer school

STEM summer school 2015 (4)Fewer places might be more desolate than an elementary school classroom in summertime.

Unless, that is, you’re one of 400 Pasco STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) students who signed up for a special summer school session this year. The two-week session brought learning to life by incorporating guest speakers, classroom experiments and engineering activities that kept them plenty busy.

WRPS employees infused a little excitement into the final day of class by visiting with the students and viewing the presentations of their final projects.

Students were allowed two choices: build a terrarium to house Venus flytrap plants or create a robot to pollinate rosy periwinkle flowers.

“Students worked in groups of three and told us how they used the engineering design process to come up with their product,” said Hector Ubinas, WRPS Production Control engineer. “I couldn’t believe how creative they got with some of these designs. It was really impressive.”

Each of the options had a scenario driving the need for the project. For the Venus flytrap plants, a resort was being overwhelmed by the local mosquito population and was in need of a terrarium to grow the flytrap plants that would help reduce the mosquito population.

The robotic pollinator was required for a medical research lab developing life-saving medicine from rosy periwinkle flowers. The lab was looking for a method to pollinate the flowers to continue growing them without the use of bees.

“Students were given a backstory about a need, then they used the engineering process to provide a solution,” said Jen Uchida, WRPS Instrument & Control Engineering. “At the end of the day, that’s what engineering is all about.”

Other WRPS participants included Bryan Blair, Shawn Campbell, Lucas Cash, Chris Ensign, Kody Fullerton, Mark Haag, Matt Huntington, Mike Kingen, Jeff McClellan, Jerad Ontko, Andrew Prince, Dustin Rorden, Colleen Smalley, Andy Waterworth and Jessica Witherspoon.