Eastern Michigan University expands K-12 STEM programming, providing 500 free, hands-on activity kits to Washtenaw County youth this summer

STEM activity kits created by various EMU corporate partners teach valuable lessons in subjects like mobility, engineering, coding and product development

Ypsilanti kids received free STEM activity kits from GameAbove.

YPSILANTI — Eastern Michigan University teamed up with GameAbove, the Ypsilanti District Libraries and various EMU corporate partners and organizations to expand its K-12 STEM programming this summer. As part of the collaboration, a total of 500 hands-on STEM activity kits were distributed to youth in Washtenaw County throughout a five-week period. GameAbove funded the creation of the kits.

“At EMU, we want to expose as many young people as possible in Michigan and beyond to STEM career opportunities because we know that they’re some of the most valuable and abundant career options out there—and we don’t see that demand slowing down,” said Bia Hamed, EMU’s director of K-12 STEM outreach. “We’ve made great strides in expanding our K-12 STEM outreach efforts in previous years, and it’s strong partnerships and initiatives like this one that allow us to continue generating interest at a young age in these high job growth industries.”

STEM activity kits ready for distribution to Ypsilanti kids
Each week throughout the five week initiative, one of the participating partners donated 100 kits consisting of a hands-on STEM activity for kids to complete.

The kits were distributed through the Ypsilanti District Library Summer Challenge Champions program, which runs each summer and serves under-resourced students to make it easy for them to participate in the YDL Summer Learning Challenge as a group.

“Summer Challenge Champions is YDL’s summer outreach program that partners with summer camps and daycares where school-aged children are spending their days during summer,” said Stacey Palazzolo, YDL outreach librarian. “Since these kids are unable to come to the library, we do our best to bring the library’s resources to them. This includes bins of books, storytime visits from our youth staff, and great resources like the STEM kits from EMU. The kits were great because they included high-quality, educational materials that could be used in a number of ways to help students keep learning. Best of all, the kids love them.”

Each week throughout the five week initiative, one of the participating partners donated 100 kits consisting of a hands-on STEM activity for kids to complete. Contributing partners included GameAbove, Dominos, FordLabs, GE and the EMU Construction Management Alumni group, who delivered their kits on Friday, July 16, officially kicking off the initiative. The kits included projects on mobility, energy, and engineering and construction.

GameAbove, a group of passionate EMU alumni and supporters, provided kits to build a snap together car, which taught kids about force, motion and energy.

“We are excited to be part of this important initiative for our community,” said Jeff Bourdon, GameAbove EMU Advisory board member. “Our hope is that these activity kits will help to inspire the students and lead some to a career in STEM. We are honored to be working with EMU and Ypsilanti District Libraries to bring this program to so many students.”

The Dominos kits included a drawstring backpack with a Girls Who Code textbook of coding activities and a resource sheet to learn more about coding, and the GE kits included creating a Doodlebot, a vibrating, drawing, chaotic, doodling robot with tons of personality.

Kits from FordLabs provided workbooks that focused on the way iteration drives development. According to Abbey Knick, FordLabs’ communications and operations coordinator, the workbook follows FordLabs’ own “build, measure, learn” process that drives their own product development. The kit teaches students important lessons about the value of repetitive testing and pivoting of ideas in order to achieve desired results.

“Abbey and I have been passionate partners of Digital Divas for the past few years with FordLabs,” said Paulette Avolio, FordLabs product manager. “I personally love to learn through hands-on activities, so when Bia presented this initiative to us, we knew it was a great opportunity to get involved to help shape the next generation of designers, managers, and software engineers.”

For more information about EMU’s K-12 STEM outreach efforts, visit the GameAbove Stem for the Future website.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 16,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

August 03, 2021

Written by:
Morgan Mark

Media Contact:
Morgan Mark