Brandon – STEM (Part 5)

In previous posts, I’ve talked about how living in a residential college has certain academic and social benefits that you wouldn’t otherwise get while living in a regular campus dorm or apartment, but for my final post I’m going to talk about some of the activities currently offered within STEM and some future projects that I hope to get rolling next year.

Things that we already do in STEM:

  1. Kid’s Club – Every Fall, the UCA Bears play football. Lots of people in Conway like to watch the game, but unfortunately, some of them have children who do not. That’s where Kid’s Club, and STEM, comes in. You see, kids may not like sitting on cold bleachers, but they usually love science experiments, puzzles, games, and expending ridiculous amounts of energy. Since its creation, the STEM Residential College has helped host these Kid’s Clubs by providing the experiments, puzzles, and games; it’s just up to the parents to provide the kids.  Every game, STEM students help the kids with various science-themed activities so the parents can enjoy the sport while their kids can enjoy themselves.
  2. Science Nights – STEM also currently participates in a service learning project called Science Nights. Science Nights are usually held at a local elementary or middle school on a Tuesday or Thursday night. During the Science Nights, STEM students run demonstrations for various concepts within the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics for the students of these schools and their parents.
  3. Classroom Visits – These projects have a less creative name, but they are exactly what they say they are. STEM students visit local schools and give demos similar to those done at the Science Nights, but they are usually structured to fit with the class’ lesson plans. This allows the students to be more involved in the demonstrations and consequently learn more from them.
  4. RA Programming  – RA’s are Resident Assistants who also serve within the residential colleges to help make life a little better. The RA’s usually hold some sort of program for the STEM residents every week whether it’s a game or movie night or some sort of academic programming.

Things that I want for next year:

  1. Book Club – I’m sure we will come up with a better name, but “book club” is the basic idea. In the past, STEM residents were required to read a book about an important class of cells for cancer research called “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” This book was incorporated into the curriculum of the STEM classes held within the residential college, and it really brought a lot of students together in talking about a relevant topic within current scientific research. I have already proposed for next year that we continue this sort of program, but alter it so that there are different books relevant to each major field within STEM (a different book for science, technology, engineering and math majors). Furthermore, it will be up to the Advocates of the field to help lead discussions about the book once a week for each group of students. Not only will this help residents discover something new about their field of study, but it will also help them become closer to their fellow residents and Advocates as well.
  2. Programming Programs – Computers are becoming more and more important in the sciences. The only problem is a lot, and I mean an overwhelming majority, of people don’t know how to program a computer. But I hope that will change in STEM. RaspberryPi is a “bare-bones” computer which can be bought for $35. My plan involves getting some programming projects set up so either STEM students or younger students just to get people familiar with the basics behind programming and getting them interested in how computers work.
  3. Robots and other Science Projects – Similar to the programming project idea, I would also like to build a robot, do an egg drop, or shoot off some model rockets. Things like that. Students could be shown the science, math, and physics behind these projects, and if they are like me, they will probably enjoy this type of stuff.

So that’s it.  I’ve talked about the academic vitality, integrity, and diversity of the residential colleges. The residential colleges are nice places to live, with cool people and cool stuff. We like to see students be successful here both academically and socially, and if you are thinking about coming to UCA, I can tell you that I have had a great experience in my years in the residential colleges, and I’m sure you will too.

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