Reported by: Megan Wise
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Updated: 5/09/2014 6:34 pm

Several Walker County Schools took part in their first STEM Day Friday afternoon. The idea was designed for students to explore environmental problem solving through science, technology, engineering and math.

Dr. John Barge, Georgia State Schools Superintendent said, "A million kids drop out of America's high schools every year and the reason, the number one reason they say they drop out of high school is because they find it unrelentingly boring and irrelevant." Ridgeland High School found a solution to boring and irrelevant, its called STEM Day. Mike Afdahl, STEM Co-Director said, "The job creation rate in the STEM fields doubles the rate of non stem jobs, so there is a need for our students to be trained in STEM academics, but also STEM experiences."

Freshmen students have tied those two concepts together by creating projects themed on sustainability. Afdahl said, "They really have dug deep into it because there are a lot of things in school that they are interested in, but they are not being covered, so the project gives them an outlet for them to showcase their interests and their abilities." Projects varied from building a solar powered dog house, to finding a way to power an engine using water and even molecular cancer research. Garret Salmon, Ridgeland High School Freshman said, 'Its a very hands on environment. Its not just a classroom, read the book, write stuff down. You are applying what you learn in math and english and science to your practice."

Students also receive mentors through Georgia Tech that have helped them through the design and research process. Afdahl said, "We want them to think what can I do now, but what do I want to prepare myself as a senior. And hopefully through the experiences with our Georgia Tech mentors and with other business and community leaders coming in they can see what potential they have for careers after they move away from Ridgeland High School."

Representatives with the STEM Day program hope they will continue to grow into the next school year.

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