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Local companies support STEM students
Students learn about the engineering behind everything from the Goodyear blimp to the special tires on the Batmobile

by WKSU's KABIR BHATIA


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Kabir Bhatia
 
Junior Maria Untch makes sure the Angry Pigs will be comfortable
Courtesy of K. Bhatia
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Science, technology engineering and math... they’re called STEM for short. Educators and legislators want more students to excel in those fields.  And as WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports, a dozen Northeast Ohio companies are trying to encourage middle- and high-schoolers to do just that.
Budding engineers take on angry pigs

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Angry pigs. Blimps. Spare tires. They weren’t schoolyard put downs this weekend.

They were part of Goodyear’s 12th Annual Engineering Career Day at Firestone High School. Students from sixth through 12th grades sat in on panels about the engineering behind everything from the Goodyear blimp to solar-powered cars to the special tires on the Batmobile.

Electrical engineer Carly Tobin was showing off the Bat-tires.  She says exposing kids to the fun side of science, math and technology now can help them decide whether a career in engineering is a good fit.

“When you were going through school, you kind of learned what challenges you enjoy.  And if math and science are those challenges, I think being exposed to the manufacturing side, and how engineers can be applied to that, it’s critical.”

The centerpiece of Engineering Day was a hands-on exercise called Angry Pigs.  Teams of four had a half-hour to construct an 18-inch tower that would support balls of various sizes, made up to look like pigs. 

Maria Untch, a junior at Jackson High School in Stark County, has looked forward to Engineering Day every year since sixth grade, with an eye toward studying architecture.  She and the three boys on her team scratched their heads for a while before getting to work.

The exercise was meant to show the fun side of engineering by encouraging collaborative design and even attention to a budget.  Items like masking tape and newspaper cost play money, with points given for every dollar saved.  At the end of the day, Maria said, “It was an epic fail.  It twisted and the structure was not strong enough.”

Maria and her team were among 900 other students at Engineering Day.  Regardless of what they do after high school, they all seemed to be having fun using STEM to attack the Angry Pigs.
(Click image for larger view.)

As they waited for their project to be tested, the boys in the group said they should have listened to Maria
Goodyear's Carly Tobin shows off a complex gumball machine made of plexiglass, allowing visitors to see the gears and ramps inside
Some of the other Angry Pigs holders
 
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