2015 STEM Summer Institute

Overview. The STEM Summer Institute ran June 1-12, 2015, 9AM-4PM each Monday thDSCN4881_for_web.jpgrough Friday and was held at The Harpeth Hall School. 


Registrants. The STEM Summer Institute exclusively served girls who had just finished 8th through 11th grades in Davidson County.  Every public middle and high school in the Metropolitan Nashville Public School (MNPS) system was contacted about this program.  Applications were due March 7.  Thirty-three girls participated from the following schools: 

Brentwood High School
Brentwood Middle School
Cane Ridge High School
Ezell Harding Christian
Ensworth School
Franklin Road Academy
Harpeth Hall School
Hillsboro High School
Hillwood High School
Homelife Academy
Hume Fogg Magnet School
MLK Magnet School
Overton High School
Rose Park Magnet Middle School
West End IB School

Snacks and lunch were included for participants.  Harpeth Hall buses were run on two routes to pick up all participants who requested it.


Curriculum and Faculty.  The curriculum was based in both service learning and engineering design within a global context.  The Lwala Community Alliance "hired" the participants to work on two projects.  The rising 9th and 10th graders improved the design of the approach to a bridge in Lwala.  The rising 11th and 12th graders improved the design of a biosand water filter.  Participants used the engineering design process to manage the designs along with appropriate scientific inquiry, statistical analyses, CAD drawings, and hands-on prototype building to accomplish this task.  We also did things to make this feel a bit more like a traditional camp - and not just academics – such as making ice cream, making shrink-dinks, going to the playground, etc.  We also included topics like college planning and building up the girls’ social capital.


Ultimately the girls were highly successful in their bridge approach and biosand water filter designs.  Each group created a thorough record of the engineering design work using the website InnovationPortal.org.  Each group also prepared an oral presentation and some made a video of their biosand water filter in action.  These videos ran while the girls stood in front of the posters, giving their oral presentations, to judges, parents, and teachers from their home schools on the final engineering design competition day.  Among the judges were the leaders of the Lwala Community Alliance who had “hired” these girls.  They were very pleased with the final projects and took the winning design with them on their current trip to Kenya to evaluate its possible use in the schools.


In addition to Dr. Klein-Gardner, the faculty included 6 Harpeth Hall teachers (Yelena Janumyan – middle school science, Kim Himes – middle school mathematics, Jennifer Webster – upper school mathematics, Gary Schott – upper school science, Lisa Keen – upper school science, Becky Smith - middle school science) as well as five biomedical engineers from Vanderbilt University (graduate students John Martin, Samantha Sarrett, Kameron Kilchrist, and Thomas Werfel and professor Craig Duvall).  Over lunch and during some classes and the engineering design project judging, we included other STEM professionals.


When the girls were asked, “Which activity did you enjoy most at the STEM Summer Institute?” they said...

  • "Talking with professionals in the STEM field at lunch because it really broadened my view of all the different STEM jobs out there."
  • "Making the actual design, because it gives me time to get to know the others in the group."


When the girls were asked, "What is the most interesting thing you remember learning at the STEM Summer Institute?" they said...

  • "That engineering is mostly a collaborative effort."
  • "The most interesting thing I learned at the STEM Summer institute is how to use a teammate's strength to be productive."
  • "My goodness, I've met and interacted with so many people; it was truly mind-blowing and royal. I not only met people who I could truly relate to but also professionals (who I could also relate to) that openly were willing to give and share useful information. The nature of their attitudes is memorable. This literally was the best thing, I feel, I could have engaged in this summer. Thank you!"
  • "That you can make agreements and get many things done if you work as a team and highlight every ones strengths and that engineers and teachers are what make the world go round along with math and science with out these four things the world would be nothing today."
  • "The most interesting thing that I learned is that stem jobs can be fun. The field trips, the teachers and my peers all make it seem like a interesting process."