Why High School STEM Programs Don’t Have to Be in Labs

America needs more engineers, scientists, and inventors. With the demand and promise of challenging, high-paying jobs, engineering is a great major and future career path. To get a leg up on the competition, many prospective engineering students might decide whether to sign up for a STEM-focused summer program. While the classic image of an engineer, computer programmer or scientist is working away in a lab, it’s important to keep in mind that high school students interested in STEM shouldn’t spend all summer indoors. We need STEM students who understand the world around them so they can design, invent, research and code products to change the world. Some of the best learning experiences for future engineers can happen outside of the lab.

What’s the Standard STEM High School Summer Programs?

Most of the summer engineering programs offered to high school students are run by top colleges and universities, and take place primarily within the classroom or laboratory setting.  Although these programs can definitely be helpful and educational, we believe that summer programs should push beyond the boundaries of traditional learning opportunities.  The best creative learning experiences can happen when students find themselves outside of their comfort zone.

The engineering field is academically demanding, especially in terms of mathematical and scientific prowess.  Students must have the ability and knowledge to design and build new structures and improve upon existing ones.  To succeed in the field, engineers must be flexible, innovative, and original.  Engineering is all about coming up with solutions to complex problems. Thinking creatively is an imperative skill for STEM students who want to tackle real-life issues all over the world.

STEM is going Global

Engineering happens everyday, in all parts of the world, and we need STEM students who think globally. From international challenges like Global Warming and Public Health to global production lines, logistics, and research to human-centered design we need STEM students who are comfortable navigating in the real world.

The programs at Atlas Workshops are geared towards students who believe in forging relationships, embracing new cultures, and coming up with new ideas. All of our programs deal with STEM issues and straddle multiple subjects, including entrepreneurship, economics, design, sustainability, technology, and public health. Many also have a technical STEM component as well.

Summer 2016 STEM High School Trips with Atlas Workshops 

This summer, we will be headed to Scandinavia to study the city planning and design of Sweden and Denmark’s transit systems.  We will focus specifically on their cycling culture as we brainstorm ideas to implement similar policies and infrastructure in American cities.  We expect one group of students will even work on designing a new bicycle! This program is ideal for students interested in engineering, because it focuses on solving concrete environmental, health, and lifestyle problems at home with both social and technical innovations.

Also this summer, we will travel to Berlin and Prague to explore some of the most creative cities in the world.  These cities are leaders in the fields of technology and innovation, and home to unique “maker spaces” where inventors and builders gather to create useful objects from scraps or develop new start-ups and apps to improve daily life.  This program is ideal for any student interested in engineering because it will take hardware and software ideas to address the current issues facing cities around the world.

Of course, our 2016 trip to India will have a STEM component as we explore both public health and medical technology, and even our economics and sustainable development project in Croatia will include some cartography and 3d mapping too.

We hope to broaden our students’ notion of what it takes to create and implement solutions to complex problems by introducing them to new experiences.  All high school students can benefit from our Global Innovation Summer Trips, those interested in STEM.