Teaching students problem-solving skills in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) will help provide them with a foundation to be better prepared in pursuing the number of growing, in-demand careers related to the subjects. Flint Hill School’s Brady Culman is doing his part to provide students in the Northern Virginia area with that foundation with the establishment of the Husky STEMbassadors Club.
WashingtonExec spoke with the 17-year-old senior on why he decided to start the STEMbassadors Club, what he hopes the group will achieve and how the club helps local students.
WashingtonExec: What does the Husky STEMbassador Club do?
Brady Culman: The Husky STEMbassadors Club is active in the community promoting excitement for STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. We are “ambassadors for STEM,” or STEMbassadors, and volunteer in nearby elementary and middle schools and at community STEM events to help younger kids, especially the underprivileged, get excited about these subjects.
My goal is for the Husky STEMbassadors to establish long-term partnerships with our neighboring schools and to let the community know that Flint Hill has a great STEM program with students who want to help others, especially the underprivileged.
WashingtonExec: How did the club get started?
Brady Culman: I wanted to start a club at Flint Hill for our students who are not only interested in STEM, but also care about helping others.
I founded the club three years ago by forming relationships with Providence Elementary School and Lanier Middle School within one mile of the Flint Hill campus. First, I met with the principals, math and science teachers, and after-school activities coordinators at both of these neighboring schools to figure out what needs they had. They were very excited to have high school students interested in mentoring their younger students. Then I approached the Flint Hill School administration about starting a new club. Finally, I recruited Flint Hill students, along with my two vice presidents, Michael Wang and Gregory Benn, to participate in the program.
WashingtonExec: What type of activities is the club involved in?
Brady Culman: For three years in a row, Husky STEMbassadors will have participated in Providence Elementary School’s annual Family STEAM Night (STEM plus Art). This exciting event brings students and families together for a night of hands-on science and technology activities that introduce them to the engineering design process and fundamental math and science concepts. This year’s event will be held Thursday, Oct. 29, at Providence Elementary School for their students and families.
Another program I initiated is at Lanier Middle School. Every week on Wednesdays, Husky STEMbassadors with a specialty in robotics volunteer down the street at Lanier’s robotics club after school from 3 to 4:30 p.m. to provide mentoring to these students. These middle school kids really look up to the high school students. While we prefer that our volunteers sign up for the whole year so they can bond with the Lanier students, volunteers can sign up for one quarter or all four quarters to work around their other sports and extra-curricular activities. It’s a great way to earn community service hours, too.
There are also summer opportunities for Husky STEMbassadors. Last summer, STEMbassadors volunteered at Fairfax County’s Young Scholars Program. This program identifies gifted youth from underprivileged or diverse backgrounds and offers them enrichment activities over the summer that they would not otherwise receive. These programs are offered at many county schools, including some close to Flint Hill such as Providence ES, Waples Mill ES, Hutchison ES, Dogwood ES, Hunters Woods ES and Lanier MS.
Finally, members of the Husky STEMbassador Club represent Flint Hill at community events promoting STEM. At the second annual STEM Symposium held at the Nysmith School on March 7, 2015, the club co-manned an exhibit with Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) on “How to Build STEMbassador Clubs” so other area high schools might follow our example. (TJ invented the term “STEMbassador” and developed the model for this program). The STEM symposium had more than 2,500 attendees and featured prominent speakers including Sen. Tim Kaine, Dr. Evan Glazer (principal of TJHSST), former Naval F18 Top Gun Pilot Eric Schierling and former astronaut Kenneth Cameron, who all spoke about how to engage students in STEM at an early age.
I also hope that the club will take an active role in the USA Science & Engineering Festival, the largest and only NATIONAL science festival, in April 2016.
WashingtonExec: What are your goals for the club?
Brady Culman: My goal is for the Husky STEMbassadors to establish long-term partnerships with our neighboring schools and to let the community know that Flint Hill has a great STEM program with students who want to help others, especially the underprivileged. We have a lot of students with strengths in math, science, and technology. It is a great way for Flint Hill students to use their academic strengths to give back to the local community.
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