By Shelby Stewart
Brandon Twp.-This week, Brandon schools 4-6 graders jumped aboard the ‘STEMi’ trailer to experience STEM related experiments, including mixed reality, self-driving cars and collaborative robotics.
“It’s a semi truck that goes to all of the school districts in Oakland County,” said Lauren Marchelletta, a member of the Oakland Schools STEM team. “They get to interact with four different experiences and work toward what a career path might look like and what might be possible for them in the future.”
The four different stations explore different areas of STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math. With the collaborative robotics experience, the students try to teach a robotic arm where to place a triangular weight to balance on a slightly smaller triangular pedestal. For the 3-D modeling, student worked at a computer with 3-D glasses on to build a model of a person, which appeared to those with the 3-D glasses as outside of the computer screen. For the self-driving car experiment, students directed self-driving car models on one of three designated tracks, while also trying to see what the sensors would see to avoid a crash, and what they wouldn’t see. Students also experimented with mixed reality, which is similar to virtual reality. Instead of putting on VR glasses and seeing something completely different, the mixed reality glasses allowed students to see their surroundings as well as other virtual items or programs.
“We also support them (Oakland County School Districts) with STEM checkout equipment,” said Kyle Kilpatrick, another member of the OS STEM team. “We go to all 28 districts for a week each.”
And the kids that get to experience it enjoy the projects, and get to see what future careers in STEM might look like. During the program, kids see different trials and tribulations with the different projects, such as with the self driving cars. Students tried to place traffic cones in the way of the cars, but found that the cars couldn’t see the traffic cones because they weren’t tall enough for the sensors to see. They also found they weren’t able to crash the cars into each other, no matter how hard they tried.
“At this age level, they get to do all the set-ups,” said Kilpatrick. “Kids love it, 80-90 percent say they would recommend the experience to someone.”