The STEM Professionals Database is a unique opportunity for STEM Professionals who are interested in sharing about their career and career field with students to connect with educators who are seeking to facilitate real-world connections for their students. The goal of building this connection between educators and STEM professionals is to increase student awareness and interest in STEM careers.

How it Works

Step 1

STEM Professional completes the form below to be added to the STEM Professionals Database.

Step 2

Educators access the database and search for STEM Professionals with expertise related to their class.

Step 3

Educators will reach out directly to a STEM Professional and request them to speak with their students virtually or in-person.

Step 4

STEM Professionals can utilize the Guide to Connecting with Students resources below to prepare for sessions with students.


Get Added to the Database!

To be added to the STEM Professionals Database, complete the form below. Information collected on the form includes:

  • Contact Information
  • Profession Information
  • Geographic Information
  • Preference for In-Person and/or Virtual Settings
  • Preference for Student Grades Interested in Connecting with
  • Short Answer Response: Why are you interested in connecting with student groups?
  • Short Answer Response: Do you have previous experience presenting to or working with students?

The information gathered will be added to the STEM Professionals Database that will be accessible on the Minnesota State Engineering Center of Excellence website and marketed to K-12 and college/university educators. Information gathered will only be used for the STEM Professionals Database.


Guide to Connecting with Students

The following content is for STEM Professionals to reference for connecting with students by grades (Elementary, Middle, High School, and College Students), along with examples of simple activities that can demonstrate STEM principles and facilitate conversations with students.

Elementary School Students

Connecting:

One way to connect with Elementary school students is to make a connection between STEM and their world. Talking about something they are experiencing today, for example, taking classes from home and the impact and spread of COVID-19 or discussing another topic that directly impacts their lives and is relevant during the time (daylight savings, snowfall, etc.).

Talking about what you do in your field at a high level and making that relationship with the student’s experience can be a good discussion. Additionally, focusing on the options a STEM education and background brings along with the wide range of STEM jobs they can have.

Make the discussions active and social – neuroscience and studies have shown that humans are social beings and learn better with higher retention when they work with others during the learning process. An activity related to STEM can get them excited and involved in the project, some simple activities are listed below:

Simple Activity:

Energy from a potato: “Students use potatoes to light an LED clock (or light bulb) as they learn how a battery works in a simple circuit and how chemical energy changes to electrical energy. As they learn more about electrical energy, they better understand the concepts of voltage, current and resistance.”

Best insulator (foam, foil, cotton, or air): “That heat flows from hot to cold is an unavoidable truth of life. People have put a lot of effort into stopping this natural physical behavior, however, all they have been able to do is slow the process. Student teams investigate the properties of insulators in their attempts to keep cups of water from freezing, and once frozen, to keep them from melting.”

Sandbox Volcano: “Mixing baking soda and vinegar creates a gas called carbon dioxide which produces the fizzing eruption. This chemical reaction occurs because of an acid (vinegar) mixing with a base (baking soda). When the two combine the reaction takes place and the gas is created. If you added dish soap, you will notice a foamier eruption”

Other examples: https://www.teachengineering.org/mostpopular

Example Question: What STEM profession do the students think the simple activity could be implemented in or ties to?

Middle School Students:

Connecting:

A good way to connect with Middle school students could be to hop on trends and cool tech tools. Using something like fidget spinners to display STEM concepts or talking about the latest YouTube star could be great talking points!

Simple Activity:

Building-Testing-Improving paper airplanes: “Students learn the different airplane parts, including the wing, flap, aileron, fuselage, cockpit, propeller, spinner, engine, tail, rudder, elevator. Then they each build one of four different (provided) paper airplane (really, glider) designs with instructions, which they test in three trials, measuring flight distance and time. Then they design and build (fold, cut) a second paper airplane design of their own creation, which they also test for flight distance and time. They graph the collected class data. Analysis of these experiments with “model” airplanes and their results help them see and figure out what makes airplanes fly and what can be changed to influence the flying characteristics and performance of airplanes.”

Straw Bridges: “Working as engineering teams, students design and create model beam bridges using plastic drinking straws and tape as their construction materials. Their goal is to build the strongest bridge with a truss pattern of their own design while meeting the design criteria and constraints. They experiment with different geometric shapes and determine how shapes affect the strength of materials.”

Red Cabbage PH Indicator: “Students take advantage of the natural ability of red cabbage juice to perform as a pH indicator to test the pH of seven common household liquids. Then they evaluate the accuracy of the red cabbage indicator, by testing the pH of the liquids using an engineer-designed tool, pH indicator strips. Like environmental engineers working on water remediation or water treatment projects, understanding the chemical properties (including pH) of contaminants is important for safeguarding the health of environmental water sources and systems.”

Other examples: https://www.teachengineering.org/mostpopular

Example Questions: What STEM profession do the students think the simple activity could be implemented in or ties to?

High School Students:

Connecting:

A good way to connect with High school students could be to discuss on going activity in social media, including new tools or mobile applications. Discussing how their daily lives are affected by social media and how STEM plays a role in this.

Simple Activity:

Measuring Viscosity:Students calculate the viscosity of various household fluids by measuring the amount of time it takes marble or steel balls to fall given distances through the liquids. They experience what viscosity means, and also practice using algebra and unit conversions.”

Identify the Need: “Students practice the initial steps involved in an engineering design challenge. They begin by reviewing the steps of the engineering design loop and discussing the client need for the project. Next, they identify a relevant context, define the problem within their design teams, and examine the project’s requirements and constraints. (Note: Conduct this activity in the context of a design project that students are working on, which could be a challenge determined by the teacher, brainstormed with the class, or the example project challenge provided [to design a prosthetic arm that can perform a mechanical function].)”

Simple Machines and the Rube Goldberg Challenge: “Students research simple machines and other mechanisms as they learn about and make Rube Goldberg machines. Working in teams, students utilize the engineering design process to design and build their own Rube Goldberg devices with 10 separate steps, including at least six simple machines. In addition to the use of readily available classroom craft supplies, 3D printers may be used (if available) to design and print one or more device mechanisms. Students love this open-ended, team-building project with great potential for creativity and humor.”

Other examples: https://www.teachengineering.org/mostpopular

Example Questions: What STEM profession do the students think the simple activity could be implemented in?

College Students:

Connecting:

Sharing some information about yourself including profession, college major, why you decided to pursue your career path. Providing students with tips on how to prepare for a job interview, dressing up, etc. Additionally, going through a day in the life as a STEM professional can be really interesting for students to learn about.

Simple Activity:

Minecraft Coding Activity: “Code.org offers three Minecraft activities that help to teach students the principles of coding. These three modules include Minecraft Designer, Minecraft Adventurer, and Hero’s Journey.  Each activity consists of several challenges that get students using block coding to program their Minecraft characters. Students will learn about important coding concepts like loops, variables, and functions by participating in these mini-challenges.”

Tesla Autopilot Overview: A brief overview of how Tesla’s autopilot feature works for “self-driving” cars.

Example Questions: What job role/title are students interested in pursuing when they graduate with their degree?