Guiding the Next Generation of STEM in Indiana


George giltner

Looking back on your own personal experience from Kindergarten to Grade 12, is there something that inspired you to grow as a student, motivating you to explore an area that has become your future career? This happened to me during my senior year when I joined my robotics team in high school. Before joining this team, I remember asking my teachers “why do we need to know this?” And they always stressed that we had to learn this information because we would be tested on it. This statement never motivated me.

What made robotics different is that it gave me hands-on experience. For example, I learned for the first time to apply algebra to the real world. Using Ohm’s Law, I was able to find ways to make a robot move faster, which opened my eyes a lot more than learning anything for a test.

In college, while working on my Electrical Engineering Technology degree, I started volunteering with College Mentor for Kids. I have worked with at-risk elementary-age youth, who faced a myriad of barriers such as low-income households, family issues, behavioral issues and academic setbacks. In this environment, I have witnessed the power of technology education and its ability to inspire and engage the minds of young students, many of whom would otherwise be overlooked in the middle class. By providing students with a hands-on task like assembling robots with legos, they were energized not only to accomplish this task, but also to tackle more difficult experiments. I was addicted and wanted to continue to help inspire future generations.

These experiences motivated me to pursue the role of technology education teacher and robotics trainer, which ultimately led me to my current role as President and CEO of TechPoint Foundation for Youth (TPF4Y). Now, in a world where the demand for people with a background in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology (STEM) continues to grow, it is crucial that all students have access to greater educational resources in these fields.

TechPoint Foundation for Youth

TPF4Y is a non-profit organization that has provided STEM education and resources to Indiana educators and their students since 2001. Our mission is to ensure that all Indiana K-12 students have access to opportunities. experiential learning that increases STEM knowledge and inspires career exploration. Through this mission, we have specifically made it a priority to connect and support students who are generally under-represented in STEM fields – low income, women, and students of color. In a typical year, we are able to reach over 36,000 students in 51% of schools in Indiana. This past school year, due to COVID-19, we were able to serve over 20,000 Indiana students. Although this is a big step forward, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Although we are not a direct supplier, we do more than just provide grants to schools. Our foundation helps provide professional development and ongoing support for teachers so educators in Indiana feel comfortable teaching content and know where to get answers. For example, if you give a robotics kit to a teacher, without proper training in its use or how to teach robotics, they may be intimidated by the technology and find it difficult to support their students. This can cause these teachers to drop out in the end. TPF4Y strives to prepare educators for the crucial role of robotics or technology coach by offering professional development training programs.

Once this development has taken place, it is also crucial that these educators are connected to STEM Partners, which is a mentoring program created in partnership with Eli Lilly that connects STEM teachers with local STEM professionals who can support and support them. help them connect what is taught in the classroom to situations that an individual will encounter during a STEM career. Through the STEM Partners program, our students are also starting to see adults who look like them working in their dream roles, which provides them with positive role models that can motivate them to continue their education in these fields.

STEM education is essential for the future

STEM teaches our future generations 21st century skills: critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration. These skills are essential as we learn and grow, moving beyond our K-12 experiences and into real-world careers. At a very young age, he introduces and supports the ideology of competing with each other rather than against each other. While today’s sports leagues and clubs provide our young people with exceptional opportunities to engage in team building / leadership and physical activity, a STEM sport such as competitive robotics gives young people students the opportunity to interact in ways and situations they have never encountered before, preparing them for the real world like no other program. It connects students from all cities, states and even countries, challenging them to work together even when language barriers are present.

As students move on through their K-12 years and into careers, they become the next generation mentors. As our young people begin to exit sports in middle school, high school and college, STEM education offers participants a plethora of future careers as well as limitless learning opportunities. The idea of ​​the typical STEM student is also changing before our eyes as STEM programs become more accessible to students statewide with the support of TPF4Y.

While incorporating STEM resources into the classroom is essential, it is often overlooked. TPF4Y provides the guidance, grants, and resources needed by Indiana school societies to make STEM programs a priority and accessible to all students.

For more information on TPF4Y, visit www.techpointyouth.org or contact us at [email protected]


Comments are closed.