HARRISBURG, Pa. -- (BUSINESS WIRE) -- More than 300 students will gather at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology tomorrow to compete in the statewide finals of the 2014 Pennsylvania STEM Design Challenge, a competition that encourages students to apply skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). This year’s competition, where students in grades 4-8 design environmentally friendly “people movers,” was expanded to include 19 of 29 intermediate units within the state.
The competition will take place on Friday, May 2, at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific, the Allegheny County Intermediate Unit, Harrisburg University and K’NEX Education.
“We’re working every day to ensure our children in Pennsylvania are ready to learn, ready to grow and ready to succeed because our students are our future,” said Governor Tom Corbett. “By making such a substantial commitment to the STEM Design Challenge, Thermo Fisher Scientific is helping to educate the next generation of scientists and engineers. Organizations like Thermo Fisher Scientific, K’NEX and Allegheny Intermediate Unit are at the heart of what makes Pennsylvania great.”
The first- and second-place teams from regional competitions, held earlier this spring, are participating in the statewide finals. Governor Corbett will provide opening remarks and a team from Thermo Fisher Scientific will host a discussion with parents about engaging students in STEM activities outside of the classroom. As part of its contribution to the 2014 STEM Design Challenge, Thermo Fisher funded teacher training kits, conducted teacher training for more than 300 teachers statewide and will award one school a customized teacher training program. The company has donated more than 1,100 volunteer hours and over $62,000 to expand the program.
For the challenge, students have two hours to build a vehicle using K’NEX rods, connectors and motors that must be able to travel at least four feet across a table and overcome at least one obstacle. Each team also needs to create a blueprint of their design and prepare a two-minute presentation on how their model answered the challenge. Teams will be judged on key 21st-century learning skills including creativity, teamwork, challenge success, design and presentation.
Thermo Fisher and the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (IU3) launched the STEM Design Challenge in 2008 to encourage student interest and excitement in STEM-related fields. While jobs in science and engineering are increasing in the U.S., comparatively few students are prepared to fill them. According to the U.S. Department of Education, only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and are interested in a STEM career.
“We are always eager to provide creative learning opportunities, and now an even larger segment of students in Pennsylvania can take part in our STEM Design Challenge,” said Amy Cribbs, career education and academic events coordinator, Allegheny Intermediate Unit. “Furthermore, the educators in our school system are more equipped than ever before to teach STEM disciplines as a result of this program’s growth.”
“Supporting STEM education is a core tenet of our corporate social responsibility initiative, and we believe that fostering an interest in science, technology, engineering and math helps to spur interest of our next generation of employees and customers,” added Edward A. Pesicka, Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer for Thermo Fisher Scientific. “This is a great public-private partnership that shows that science can be fun, engaging and collaborative.”
About Thermo Fisher Scientific
Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. is the world leader in serving science, with revenues of $17 billion and 50,000 employees in 50 countries. Our mission is to enable our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer. We help our customers accelerate life sciences research, solve complex analytical challenges, improve patient diagnostics and increase laboratory productivity. Our four premier brands – Thermo Scientific, Life Technologies, Fisher Scientific and Unity Lab Services – offer an unmatched combination of innovative technologies, purchasing convenience and comprehensive support. For more information, please visit www.thermofisher.com.