FLATE’s Student Outreach – Supporting STEM Education Mentoring Engineering Capstone Projects for Middle School’s 8th Grade

Every year, the Florida Advanced Technological Center-FLATE, helps middle school students by mentoring in their Engineering Capstone projects. The 8th grade STEM students are tasked to exhibit technical expertise to solve challenging problems by producing ideas and products that have the potential to be marketed in the real world.

Among some of the schools that FLATE serves as mentor is the James Madison Middle School (MMS) in Tampa, FL. MMS opened in 1952 and is recognized as a leader in STEM education in Hillsborough County. The school prides itself in designing enriching and engaging curriculum that takes students on a “learning adventure” focused on applying key engineering skills that are critical to problem-solving and developing higher order thinking skills. During 2008 J. Madison Middle school was selected to host, on behalf of Hillsborough County Schools, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – STEM Aerospace Engineering Academy with a strong focus on leadership skills.  Part of J. Madison Middle School’s success can be attributed to its successful strategy in formulating key mentorships/partnership with industry and education institution like FLATE (the Florida-based National Science Foundation Regional Center of Excellence for technological education). This strategic mentorship offers real educational opportunities for students to interact with top professionals in different STEM fields.

To support some of its STEM based initiatives, J. Madison Middle School also created the “Ghost Riders STEM Institute”, now referred to as the “STEM Aerospace Engineering Academy”, and has recently started the 8th grade capstone project which involves the development and creation of an innovative product over the period of the whole year. Each student group is mentored by an “expert professional” in the field. These professionals, or experts, would help them complete their projects with their guidance. Meetings with mentors are performed via phone, emails, and video provide each group with the proper direction for the creation of their product.

Each group is to develop a company and create a plan to introduce a product to the market. A product that will be presented to a panel of judges, like the TV show Shark Tank. Products are to address current environmental issues, solve problems with waste and inefficiency, meet the increasing demand for power, make lives safer and healthier, etc.

Dr. Marilyn Barger and Danielly Orozco, Principal Investigator and Associate Director of FLATE, are currently part of the mentor/expert professionals program for the 8th grade capstone project. Daniel Mills is the lead instructor of Madison Middle’s STEM Aerospace Engineering Academy. For more information on the list of the 2018 8th Grade students’ Capstone project please visit https://tinyurl.com/madisoncapstone17 or contact Daniel Mills at daniel.mills@sdhc.k12.fl.us.

Middleton HS Engineering Capstone Final Projects: “Project Lead the Way” – Pathways to Engineering

Engineering Capstone Project- Lead The Way (PLTW), another project supported by FLATE, provides a comprehensive approach to STEM Education. Through activity, projects, and problem-based curriculum, PLTW gives students in high school a chance to apply what they know, identify problems, find unique solutions, and lead their own learning. The implementation of this program provides tools to empower students and transform the classroom into a collaboration space where content comes to life.

Currently Middleton HS is recruiting judges of this pre-engineering design event, the objective is to constructively critique and evaluate the projects. This type of event is a great opportunity to promote STEM and Engineering Technology targeting high school students.

When: May 4th, 2018 – 8 am—11am morning session, 1:30—3:00 afternoon session

What: Morning—Gallery Walk of all Senior Capstone Projects

Where: Morning session Cafeteria, Afternoon session auditorium

For more information contact Elizabeth Simpson  by April 20th if you are able to attend.