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12-11-18 — Garmin Brings STEM to Central Computer Lab

Dec. 11, 2018 ~ When two engineers from Garmin Ltd. visited Central Elementary’s computer lab to talk about their careers, they did more than show a video and talk about geeky tech stuff. They brought circuit kits and taught the fifth-graders how to build their own mini dance pads using common household items.

“When I talked to the outreach coordinator at Garmin about the possibility of having a couple of engineers come talk to the kids about their education and careers, she suggested also providing the kids with a hands-on STEM activity,” computer learning associate Sylvia Garcia said. “I was thrilled!”

Garcia’s computer lab at Central Elementary is a place where students learn about using technology and the myriad careers behind computers.

“This year my goal was to have more STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities and career exploration with my fifth-graders,” Garcia said. “I wanted to give the students the opportunity to think beyond minimum-wage jobs as possible future careers.”

Fifth grade is the perfect age to introduce career options to students, according to Library Media Coordinator Lori Franklin.

“The visit from Garmin showed them a real-world application resulting from a job in a STEM career,” Franklin said. “Visits such as these bring a world of possibilities right to students' minds as they work though a hands-on experience that shows them what Garmin engineers do in their jobs.”

The electrical engineer and software engineer talked about their careers and instructed students on building a mini dance pad using a circuit board, popsicle sticks, aluminum foil, card stock, wires, tiny lightbulbs, and a battery.

“There was a bit of frustration as the kids struggled to understand the directions, but the energy in the room changed quickly as they began to understand the final product,” Garcia said. “It was fun to see the students help each other and get excited about wires and circuits.”

The fun and learning didn’t end there, because the engineers provided a second kit for each child to take home. The next day, students wrote thank you letters to the engineers and many of them mentioned completing the kits with their families and how much they enjoyed learning about engineering.

“My goal was to open their eyes to more career possibilities and get them excited about STEM jobs. I feel like that was accomplished!” Garcia said. “One boy asked so many thoughtful questions and understood the concepts that the engineers invited him to tour Garmin and look at future internships there. So exciting!”