Charles Bass: Teaching, and Nourishing, America’s future scientists

Tuesday, July 16, 2019 9:16 am EDT

I grew up in Nashville. It’s my city. I’m very happy to live here once again after a 19-year tour around the Midwest and South with Siemens, including roles in Detroit and Memphis. I’m now a client sales executive in Digital Industries Software.

When I was in college, I became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. In 2015, while I was with the Memphis Alumni chapter, my fraternity brothers and I created the Mobile STEM Initiative for Memphis Youths (MSIMY). The Siemens Digital Industries Software and the Siemens Foundation have both supported our efforts since the MSIMY initiative started.

For my fraternity brothers and me, the goal of our STEM program was the development of competence, confidence, connection and character in the children in the program. But we also knew that we had to be positive role models and demonstrate to the kids that if they could ignite their interests in math, science and technology, then they could build a path to academic excellence. The program gives us a chance to show that science and technology are “cool” subjects that can lead to exciting career opportunities.  

The MSIMY program involves about 125 students, across grades K1 to K5. Before I relocated to Nashville, the fraternity was in the early stages of expanding the program to eight different schools. We have also delivered STEM events at the Salvation Homeless Shelter in Memphis. I am now a member of The Brentwood Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and we have continued delivering STEM programs to young people. Our STEM program at Two Rivers Middle Prep School in Nashville, currently has 70 kids participating.

Each instructional session is called “Siemens STEM Day.” Siemens employees, my fraternity brothers and I teach a variety of courses. Some of the exercises are about how to develop a structure that will withstand an earthquake or how to assess solar power by comparing its effect on rain, sleet and snow. And there’s the kid’s favorite, “Stomp Rockets”—all about performing a controlled experiment to learn how variables affect the trajectory of a Stomp Rocket.

One thing I realized about these future scientists: they cannot focus on their school work if they are hungry. They can’t think if they don’t have enough to eat, and particularly in the summer the children that would otherwise get food at school might miss a meal. That’s why we started the Siemens Summer Cereal Drive at The Two Rivers Middle Prep School in Nashville.

The Two Rivers School has a pantry where students and their families can collect food they need. Siemens Smart Infrastructure employees in Nashville donated about 160 boxes of cereal this past spring. I also went out into the local community and got some other for-profit and non-profit entities to join the effort. And, of course, my fraternity brothers were a part of it. That’s how we got the pantry up to 700 boxes of cereal, oatmeal and breakfast pastries. The program has identified several other schools in metro Nashville that could benefit from a similar food drive.  

Building the future workforce starts with adults who love what they do sharing their passion for technology and innovation with students from many backgrounds. Those adults can give young people a skillset that will serve them for the rest of their lives, no matter where they go or what they choose to do. That’s why we’re approaching the evolution of STEM holistically, starting with our future scientists in their own communities. 

 

Editor’s Note: Siemens STEM Day is a complimentary set of tools and resources for K-12 teachers, volunteers and student mentors that brings STEM experiences to life through curriculum aligned with national teaching standards and which complement the curriculum taught at each grade level. It is powered by the Siemens Foundation. Visit SiemensSTEMDay.com to view more than 150 sets of hands-on activities and ideas. The Siemens Foundation ignites and sustains today’s STEM workforce and tomorrow’s scientists and engineers. Learn more by visiting siemens-foundation.org.

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