For the second summer in a row, Professor Ekundayo Shittu of the EMSE department led a program for DC-area high school students, covering STEM topics, including spreadsheet and optimization modeling, programming in Python, and VBA (Excel’s programming language).
Some of the program's goals include introducing students to STEM fields, particularly within the realm of systems engineering, strengthening their data analysis competency, and integrating teamwork into project-based learning activities.
This year, 10 high school students--along with three of last year’s students, who served as teaching assistants--attended the program virtually. Program attendees received a stipend, derived from Shittu’s National Science Foundation CAREER award, and completed lessons over a four-week period. “I have had some very amazing groups of students, and I have received several encouraging emails from parents [regarding] the program,” Shittu says.
Transitioning from an in-person program to an online offering required some adjustment, but Shittu was able to implement features including breakout rooms and interactive exercises to enhance the student experience. In spite of some challenges, “it was a great experience for both the cohort of students and me,” Shittu says. “I was able to experiment with other learning pedagogies and technologies to enhance engagement and break the silos and barriers induced by social distancing or distance learning.”