Teaching has always been my passion. This inclination made me involve myself in opportunities to teach whenever possible. During my junior year, I volunteered at an NGO for teaching mathematics to elementary school kids. It is at that point in life where I realized the importance of quality education. I still remember how elated I was when those young children were able to reciprocate what I taught them. I recently got the opportunity to facilitate some STEM activities to school girls through SWE Chennai Affiliate on February 20th, 2021.
I was with a group of engineers and we were about to speak to middle school girls about careers in engineering and explain to them certain concepts of physics. Our goal was simple; introduce the students to how engineering and science make the world a better place.
Due to COVID-19, we had to deliver a virtual session and I must admit, I was a bit skeptical beforehand as the school girls I was about to interact with were not familiar to me and I wondered if I would hold their attention. Soon after I started my session, that ambiguity disappeared and turned into exhilaration. I gave a practical explanation of Newton’s Laws of Motion through a DIY catapult. The students were so excited, and they asked many good and insightful questions. I enjoyed seeing the girls being able to connect the dots on their own after my efforts to explain a concept using simple terms. Also, I find it very refreshing trying to explain scientific terms using very simple wording.
The multitudes of responses we got when asked about their ambitions in life made me realize that there were no boundaries to their dreams. It was good to see those cocoons eagerly waiting to break their shells and fly with beautiful colours. So, when I look at my virtual STEM outreach, it provides an enduring memory of the impact we can have on the next generation.
Seeing the excitement in a student’s face when you know you made a STEM connection, and they understand the wonders of science and engineering, is as satisfying as it sounds. I feel, as engineers, we not only have a responsibility to our employers—we also have an obligation to the profession and society. Motivating the next generation to envision themselves as professionals is critically important to the health, safety, and security of society.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the mentor relationships I developed throughout my path. I’m hoping I can give these high school students a little practice in that area and be a resource to any curiosity they might have about a STEM career.”
– Swetha Manickavasagam
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