Promote STEM Among Lewiston Students

A University of Idaho-sponsored video contest will encourage Lewiston students to imagine their futures as scientists, technologists, engineers or mathematicians.

Lewiston is one of three Idaho communities in which U-Idaho’s science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, Education Research Initiative is launching innovative programs to elevate STEM education by focusing on students, parents and schools.

The programs are part of a five-year project funded by a $1.2 million Micron Foundation gift.

Lewiston’s project will begin in June and links to videos will be available this fall. The project team is calling for Lewiston area residents – with an emphasis on high school students – to produce videos that highlight professionals demonstrating how they use STEM in their careers. Half of each video will also address recommendations about educational choices a student should make to follow the same career path.

Led by Kirsten LaPaglia, STEM Access Upward Bound director, and John Anderson, a U-Idaho virtual technology and design assistant professor, the innovation will challenge students to create a 3-5 minute YouTube video portrait of a professional that uses STEM in his or her workplace. Prizes will be awarded to the most entertaining and well-produced videos. The videos will then be linked on a web-based interactive map.

LaPaglia, who works with high school students in Lewiston, said she noticed how students understand little about the role STEM plays in different careers.

“And based on the fact that most folks nowadays spend hours on YouTube and Facebook and a variety of media, I thought the best way to get this out would be by producing videos,” LaPaglia said.

Anderson said it is important for people to see how others interpret their own careers. And no matter the career, Anderson said, STEM plays a role.

“Nothing helps you understand something more deeply than participating in the education process,” said Kelly Anderson, a U-Idaho virtual technology and design lecturer. “So, making a video trying to promote mathematics, science, technology and engineering is only going to help you understand the subject better.”

LaPaglia said interacting with STEM professionals could help students realize the practical applications of STEM to careers.

“That’s how some of them will shift perspective and see themselves in that career in the future,” LaPaglia added. “So part of my hope is that we will help them connect to something new that could be a good fit.”