Hands-On Learning: Inspiring All Students


Megan Sheehan, Writer

Why do people in poverty tend to not want to be engineers? Why do girls not want to be scientists? These questions and many others have been puzzling educators for years. One aspect of this problem may be a lack of hands-on experiences and role models for minority groups.

People tend to be interested in what they are exposed to the most. Students who don’t have highly educated parents may not consider pursuing intellectually challenging jobs. Girls and boys are less likely to seek interests that are linked to stereotypes of the opposite gender. However, schools could change this by showing all students that they can pursue these careers through educational opportunities.

Last Friday, the Society of Women Engineers had the opportunity to go to STI Electronics to tour the facility and learn how to solder. Soldering is the process of joining electrical components to a printed board by melting metal to make a permanent connection. Through this experience, they were able to explore potential career paths in engineering with peers who were like them.

“I really loved spending time with my friends and having a fun time learning a lot about electronics. I learned how to solder and about the parts of electric components. It was really interesting seeing the factory where all the components are made,” stated Madeline Anne See, a member of the Society of Women Engineers. “This has helped me prepare for an engineering career in the fact that I now know a new technique and can put that on my resume.”

According to NEAMD, Carylann Assante, executive director for Student Youth and Travel Association stated that field trips and hands-on experiences give diverse and financially in-need students equal opportunity to experience things that their families may not be able to afford or expose them to. It also gives students unique opportunities that level the playing field.

Claire O’Neal, another member of the Society of Women Engineers commented, “I think this experience could help me get a job or just show that I have a wide variety of skills.”

Field trips and activities like this are a step in the right direction towards encouraging all students to pursue any field they want. Through these opportunities perhaps we can have a future where all students have an even playing field for success.