(Above) New Bridge High School students at Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility learned screenprinting, including how to create designs and transfer them to all kinds of items.
Students at New Bridge High School at Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility have had a “STEM-ulating” opportunity this school year, thanks to a community partnership.
Talent Maker City, a nonprofit that specializes in workshops surrounding STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), has brought weekly courses to youth that not only teach them about a variety of STEM subjects, but introduces them to potential careers.
“We select a group of kids where the topic fits their interest, needs, and schedules,” Principal Lynn Eccleston said. “It’s a valuable partnership to have outside experts provide hands-on learning for our guys.”
In October, when the program debuted, the group learned about solar and alternative energy.
“They powered a toaster and were able to toast Pop-Tarts,” Eccleston said. “It was really cool.”
The youth built a roof in the school’s manufacturing lab while learning about solar energy and wiring. The course wrapped up with a visit from True South Solar, a company that put solar panels on the students’ demo roof.
The next course topic was rockets. Using the school’s 3D printer, students designed rockets, working with geometry students on how to incorporate mathematics into the process.
“The rockets … are launched using water and air pressure,” student Logan W. wrote in the student newsletter. He said that the students at New Bridge have also learned “how to measure how high their rockets go and how quickly they are traveling. The volunteers also helped (us) design and 3D-print nose cones to attach to the rockets and add a little flair.”
The most recent course has been on screen printing, where youth learned how to make their own designs using Adobe Illustrator, then took those designs and printed them on products, from cards to T-shirts. Eccleston pointed out the potential for screen printing to become a vocational opportunity for youth. They have already designed T-shirts for workers in the barber shop, coffee cart, and main kitchen at the facility, and Eccleston thinks they could partner with organizations outside the facility to produce similar work.
“Their designs are pretty impressive,” she said. “The experts (from Talent Maker City) can help guide and facilitate that process as well.”
The next scheduled topic is mechanical engineering, with a guest expert who has a doctorate in the subject.
Overall, Eccleston said about 35 youth have participated in at least one of the classes so far. Though the agreement is for Talent Maker City to stay through June, she said she hopes the partnership continues beyond this school year, especially since the youth feedback has been positive.
“I have kids asking, ‘How do I sign up?’” she said. “No one is saying, ‘I don’t want to do this today.’ They see it as a valuable experience.”