Waupaca's Foundry In a Box Embraces STEM Learning Initiative
On July 10, Bannach Elementary School in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, hosted a STEM Day Camp for children in grades 3-6 for the third consecutive year. There were 50 boys and girls in attendance.
The event was made possible by the Boy Scouts of America Samoset Council. The Samoset Council is one of 12 Boy Scout councils in the country to participate in the STEM Scouts Pilot Program. There are only two in Wisconsin, and the Samoset Council is the only rural area based council.
The need for the STEM Scouts program first came from the request of manufacturing industry leaders due to the lack of trained professionals in the manufacturing field.
To combat this, the program has weekly meetings for children to learn more about STEM through fun and forward thinking activities.
Throughout the year and at the STEM day camp, “They’re learning confidence, team building and communication,” said Dan Schmit, District Executive of the Samoset Council.
The day camp hosts many STEM activities for boys and girls to partake in, one being Waupaca Foundry’s Foundry in a Box.
This was the second year Waupaca Foundry was present at the event, and five employees facilitated the activity. Assistant plant manager Tyler Nooyen, process engineer manager Halden Collins, quality engineer Aaron Jorgensen, lead auditor Ryan Miller and melt lab intern Samuel Byrne were in attendance.
Nooyen also volunteers as a STEM teacher for the STEM Scouts Lab, a co-ed program at Amherst Elementary School in Amherst, Wisconsin. He says, “I think it is good to get out there and talk with kids. Some may or may not have family working at the foundry, but either way, kids do not always have a good understanding of what manufacturing means."
Being able to see liquid metal turned into something useful—like a fidget spinner—gives them more of an appreciation of being able to make real stuff that is useful in our daily lives.
Jessica Champion, the principal at Bannach Elementary School, appreciates STEM volunteers, like Waupaca Foundry employees, because they create more opportunities for kids to learn and develop new skills that lead to creativity and diverse thinking in the classroom.
Kids, with the help of Waupaca Foundry employees, were able to make their own tin casting fidget spinner by hand packing sand into molds and assisting in the pouring, shakeout and cleaning processes.
“The kids can now go home and say ‘I know how this is made,’” Schmit said.