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Students Engineer Solutions for Baltimore Problems

See how local kids would use science to help their neighborhoods – the capstone to a five-year pilot program for science, technology, engineering and math education

May 1, 2017
CONTACT: Jill Rosen
Office: 443-997-9906
Cell: 443-547-8805
jrosen@jhu.edu @JHUmediareps

Baltimore student shows off a fix she engineered for a problem in her neighborhood.

WHEN: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 3. (Media who arrive early can also speak to researchers and project leadership during a reception from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.)

WHERE: Newton H. White, Jr. Athletic Center, Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus, Baltimore. (The reception is in the student lounge.)

WHAT: Students from nine Baltimore City elementary/middle schools will show off creations they dreamed up and then built to solve problems they noticed in their neighborhoods. This is a chance to see the culmination of a five-year pilot program created by Johns Hopkins to strengthen science, technology, engineering and math education in Baltimore City schools.

In the past, students have engineered drones to prevent graffiti, sleeping benches for homeless people, water “blaster” toys that also hydrate plants, a filter to keep garbage out of the watershed and tools to pick up litter. This year’s innovations include a robot that picks up dog poop and a portable shelter for the homeless.

WHY: Students, particularly in under-funded districts, are often insufficiently prepared to pursue careers in science — job opportunities that are expected to grow in the future. It’s critical to spark interest in science early, and equally critical to devise tested educational models to do it.

BACKGROUND: With a $7.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation in 2012, the Johns Hopkins schools of engineering and education teamed up with Baltimore City Public Schools to launch a pilot program to improve science, technology, engineering and math education in grades 3-5.

The program, STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools, or SABES, involved a three-pronged approach. First, thoroughly train teachers in best practices. Then, give students a rigorous, engaging, and hand-on curriculum. And finally, bolster what’s learned in the classroom with after-school programming that shows students how science can affect their neighborhoods and their lives.

This is the fifth and last year of the pilot, which has reached more than 2,200 Baltimore students and trained 147 city teachers. Research demonstrates students who’ve taken the program are more confident and interested in science and engineering. For instance, after completing the program, the number of students interested in becoming an engineer jumped 27 percent.

Members of the media who expect to cover this event should RSVP to Jill Rosen at 443-997-9906 or jrosen@jhu.edu.

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