Tri-Central Family STEM Night draws a crowd | School News

SHARPSVILLE — “How do you tell it what to make?” a woman asked Tri-Central middle schooler Lukas Moss.

It’s as simple as picking a design from a website, slicing that design into layers and uploading it to the 3D printer, explained Lukas, an eighth grader.

One could bring home designs created by Tri-Central students such as cookie cutters for a donation.

Lukas manned the 3D printer station Thursday at Tri-Central Middle School’s first STEM Family Night.

The event was coordinated with the elementary which also hosted a STEM night.

The combined efforts of students from kindergarten to eighth grade as well their teachers displayed the skills taught in the rural school district of Tipton County.

It also includes the operation of a 3D printing machine. But what if it doesn’t work?

“It’s pretty simple once you figure it out,” Lukas said. “You usually have a code problem or printer problem.”

These are his tips for beginners. You might need to check the size of the design or make sure the filament (the material used by a 3D printer) isn’t building up.

You might also need to inspect the recoder, which is the part that tells your printer what to do.

“If there’s something wrong with that, your printer won’t work,” Lukas said.

While most students won’t grow up to have careers working with 3D printers, figuring out how something works, and more importantly how to troubleshoot, are valuable skills no matter where life takes someone.

These skills are essential to the STEM curriculum.

Tri-Central is adding STEM to its academic programs. These efforts were further supported by a $24,900 grant from Indiana Department of Education.

Plenty of people turned out to Tri-Central’s STEM night as the high school featured a packed parking lot and food truck. Parents, kids and community members could learn more about STEM, Tri-Central’s Future Farmers of American program and buy a piece of student-made art to benefit the school. Many booths were run by students.

“We’ve had a great turnout. More than we expected,” Jessica Papai, middle school STEM teacher, said. “We tried to make it as student-led as possible.”

Local businesses were also invited.

“We’re trying to partner with business to talk to our community (about) employability skills and how they pair with STEM,” Shari DeLong, middle school STEM teacher, said.

John Bouic, production manager at Bayer, said they try to attend as many community events as possible to talk to people about what they’re looking for in employees. This includes critical thinking and the ability to troubleshoot.

“I think the biggest thing is mechanical skills,” Bouic said.

Students at the high and middle schools were evacuated briefly earlier Thursday due to an unfounded bomb threat. The incident did not seem to have an impact on Thursday night’s turnout.

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