Preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s careers
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 15:52

Engineers speak to Holabird STEM students

by Nicole Rodman

    Fourteen months ago, county school officials announced the merger of Norwood Elementary School, Eastwood Elementary Magnet School and Holabird Middle School into Holabird-Norwood STEM Program.
    With the new name came a new focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
    In an effort to take their STEM studies to the next level, students at Holabird have welcomed a series of experts to the school to discuss how STEM education can lead to a real-world career.
    Last Tuesday, engineers from Sparks, Md.-based Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson visited the school to speak with students about careers in engineering.
    On hand for the presentation were structural engineer John Seifert (husband of Holabird social studies teacher Nicole Seifert), water resources engineer Andrew Birmingham and environmental engineer Kelly Baxter.
    The presentation was the culmination of a semester-long in-depth problem-based learning investigation into the ways in which people affect their environment.

According to Marjie McGarry, science department chair at Holabird, “the purpose of these investigations is to prepare students to be competitive in a global workplace, through communication, collaboration, creativity, and cooperation.”
    “These investigations expose our students to a new and unique experience through linking local school and community issues with current curriculum making the learning experience more authentic.”
    The engineers discussed ways in which infrastructure design impacts the environment.
    Seifert presented information on the project development process while Birmingham and Baxter discussed issues such as stormwater management and wastewater treatment.
    At the conclusion of last Tuesday’s presentation, students were given the chance to use their newfound knowledge of engineering to draw blueprints of their vision for a redesigned school.
    The eighth-graders were not the only ones getting a taste of where STEM education can take them.
    Following a study of urban ecosystems, Holabird sixth-graders attended a presentation by Julia Dodd, a scientist from the Baltimore Ecosystem Study.
    On Jan. 14, seventh-grade students wrapped up their study of health and nutrition with a visit from Zumba instructor Brian Rice.
    Rice, a graduate of Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts, led students in a series of Zumba exercises.
    For their in-depth investigation, fourth-and fifth-grade students studied erosion and designed water filtration systems.
    While each grade level studied different topics, the intent for all was the same — imparting the skills and knowledge students will need to become members of the workforce of tomorrow.