Increasingly the focus in primary education is to involve more kids in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (Now bundled under the acronym STEM) at an earlier age. And so last month more than 200 middle school-aged hackers from all over Southern Ontario gathered at McMaster University to learn from members of the McMaster Engineering EcoCAR 3 Team and Hamilton’s very own Mathstronauts.
For a whole Saturday McMaster’s Burke Science Building transformed into a coding mecca for the visiting middle schoolers as a part of the second ever STEM-Hacks event. This year’s STEM-Hacks event was a collaborative effort between the Mathstronauts and the McMaster Engineering EcoCAR 3 Team. As an all-day hackathon, STEM-Hacks provides these young girls and boys with the opportunity to engage with some of the latest coding software, and to work with graduate and undergraduate engineers to solve STEM-oriented challenges.
Members of the McMaster Engineering EcoCAR 3 Team and the Mathstronauts have volunteered their Saturday morning, afternoon and evening to act as mentors, judges, support staff and even as special guest speakers for the event. The McMaster Engineering EcoCAR 3 team is one of only two Canadian teams participating in the EcoCAR 3 competition, which is a four-year-long hybrid automotive engineering event that is sponsored by General Motors, The United States of America’s Department of Energy and organized by Argonne National Laboratories. The McMaster Engineering EcoCAR 3 Team is comprised of more than 70 undergraduate and graduate students from a range of faculties, who have united under the same goal of converting a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro into a hybrid vehicle by 2018. Mathstronauts is an incorporated non-profit organization founded in 2012 in Hamilton. It provides innovative and creative experiential learning opportunities for youth focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The Mathstronauts believe that in a world increasingly shaped by STEM, it is vital to equip our youth with the tools and skills necessary to succeed. The Mathstronauts seek to accomplish this goal by developing exciting hands-on modules and using state-of-the-art technologies and techniques to foster a love for STEM in their students.
EcoCAR 3 ADAS Sub-team member and STEM-Hack’s co-organizer, Richard Hamilton Says the event “provides a balance between personal growth and giving back – in either case, we are pushing the culture of innovation and STEM forward by both learning and teaching.”