Oklahoma Higher Education Campus E-Clips sponsored by the Communicators Council

February 2013

TCC and Partners Emphasize STEM Learning With Tinkering and Building


TCC student helps local students with building small appliances.

TCC student Tyler Nitsche helps Tulsa area middle and high school students take apart small appliances to learn how they work and then build kinetic sculptures with the pieces.

From building an underwater robot to taking apart household appliances, Tulsa area students have their hands and minds involved in fun and learning.

Tulsa Community College, as a partner with the Tulsa Alliance for Engineering, hosted two events in January that gave students hands-on learning in the areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). The Tulsa Alliance for Engineering works to support and initiate STEM activities in K-12 and find scholarships and internships for college engineering students. It is a partnership with TCC, University of Tulsa, Tulsa Technology Center, Oral Roberts University, Oklahoma State University-Tulsa and the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa.

Students competed with underwater remote-controlled robots in an obstacle course set up at an indoor pool in the first-ever SeaPerch student challenge in Northeastern Oklahoma. SeaPerch is a program sponsored by the Office of Naval Research.

"The buoyancy and stuff - it's really fun," said 11-year-old Ben Coursen during an interview with a Tulsa TV station. He was one of about 50 students from five schools and a home-school group across the Tulsa metro area that competed. Faculty and midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy oversaw the competition and the students were judged on speed, maneuverability, completion of a specific task plus they were asked questions during an interview with representatives from the U.S. Naval Academy.

A team of high school students from Broken Arrow and a team of middle school students from the home- school group qualified for the 2013 National SeaPerch Challenge to be held in May in Indianapolis. In addition, more than 20 educators took part in a training workshop for those who want to know how to build SeaPerch and teach the STEM curriculum to their students.

It wasn’t about building but taking apart small appliances and machines for the first phase of Tulsa Tinkers. Students spent two days of their winter break, in early January, working inside the Hardesty Center Fab Lab in Tulsa. The 25 Tulsa area middle and high school students disassembled the appliances/machines and explained how they worked. Then, the students teamed up and used the parts to construct sculptures that moved either by motor, wind-up mechanism or wind.

This was the first year for Tulsa Tinkers and the finished kinetic sculptures created by the students were put on display at local libraries. The event was sponsored by the Oklahoma Society of Professional Engineers and in partnership with the Tulsa Alliance for Engineering and Fab Lab Tulsa.

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