NFC Connections Spring 2021 - Page 26

Full Stem Ahead

NFC STEM SEALs program completes first year , looks forward to 2021 Summer Institute

STEM SEALs , a National Science Foundation

( NSF ) funded research multi-year project at
North Florida College , recently completed its first Summer Institute . The STEM grant ' s focus is developing and implementing a program for rural middle school students to engineer remotely and robotically controlled vehicles for sea , air and land , hence the SEALs label . The grant aims to promote greater awareness of STEM pathways , increase the readiness of area students for STEM post-secondary study , and build student skills and confidence in exploring STEM training and careers in Jefferson , Madison , Hamilton , Suwannee , Lafayette and Taylor counties .
“ Even in the midst of a pandemic , the teaching and learning of STEM were achieved ,” said Project Coordinator Lura Sapp . “ The STEM SEALs team is very optimistic about the coming year and is busy preparing to launch a full Summer Institute in 2021 with the addition of robotic boats and drones to be able to fully accomplish its mission of SEA , AIR and LAND Challenges for rural middle school students .”
While the Summer Institute commenced in
July , work on the program began quickly after the grant was officially awarded in April of 2019 and involved a collaboration of NFC faculty and staff , area educators , and STEM professionals . While many STEM robotics programs use market-ready devices , STEM SEALs takes a novel approach to build its own program and materials . This approach allowed area students to design and test unique prototypes of land rovers and robotic boats .
An integral part of the program is utilizing the talents of individuals along with College and community resources . Many of the robotic devices ’ parts are 3D printed , laser cut or milled in the Advanced Manufacturing and Production Technology lab at NFC . In the Fall of 2019 , a team of educators took part in Design Team workshops to further
STEM SEALs participant Cailyn Gilbert shows off her land rover robot .