The SparkFun National Tour Kickstarter is now in its final days. If you’re not familiar with it, we’ve been running a campaign for the last month or so in the hopes of funding a SparkFun National Tour. On this tour, we will travel across the United States, teaching educators how to make electronics part of their classrooms, libraries, and after-school programs.
For us folks here at SparkFun, this tour is to be a means of sharing our passion for electronics with youth across the country. We believe education in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) is more important than ever, and we want to show kids across America that electronics are not only educational, but can also be genuinely fun.
In the last few weeks, we have seen an incredible outpouring of contributions from all over the country. In fact, all 50 states are now represented. We have even had several contributions of over $2,500. One of those generous contributions came from Coppell High School in Dallas, TX. I recently spoke with Mike Yakubovky, Coordinator of Coppell High’s School of Engineering (yes, some high schools have engineering specific programs now. Awesome!). Here is what he had to say about his program, their goals, and how the SparkFun Kickstarter fits their mission:
Can you tell us a little bit about Coppell High School and its engineering program?
Coppell High School is a suburban public high school just north of Dallas. We have developed a pre-college engineering program for learners that is a part of our STEM Academy. The Academy has 130 learners currently enrolled and is growing. The learners participate in projects that teach them about engineering, and have the opportunity to participate in a number of after-school projects, including FIRST Robotics and the Solar Car Challenge.
What is the importance of educating today’s students in fields like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics?
It is important that learners not only learn about STEM fields, but just how important it is to their daily lives. We live in a world of constant change and accelerating complexity. While not all people will work directly in STEM fields, their lives will be impacted directly by STEM.
How do you think companies like SparkFun and schools like CHS can work together to help make education programs stronger?
Schools by themselves cannot keep up with the increasing pace of technological innovation. By partnering with companies like SparkFun, schools will be able to offer fun and engaging ways of learning about STEM, while also keeping up with current technology. Decreasing budgets and increasing workloads make it almost impossible for educators to keep up with new technologies. It is not uncommon to find 10 or 20-year-old technology being taught to students, if it is being taught at all. SparkFun has the ability to stay current with their technological area and help teachers keep up. With partnerships like this, learners win.
What is your background in engineering and how did you first get started with engineering/electronics?
I started in engineering and science in high school and college. Along the way, I ended up in restaurant management. Later, I went back to school and started teaching science. Coppell HS wanted to put in an engineering program and asked me to take on the challenge. Over the years, we built our program and worked to include a number of opportunities for learners to discover engineering and technology and how it plays in their lives. Electronics are an integral part of our world. Learners have to have a working knowledge of it to be successful. As a program, our first foray into electronics was to build a model rocket launch control system. Then we started our solar car team. The team designs and builds full-size electric vehicles that are recharged by solar power.
Why do you feel people should support the SparkFun National Tour Kickstarter?
The SparkFun National Tour Kickstarter offers schools a great opportunity to share electronics and engineering with more people. Most educators do not do much with electronics and engineering because it is not something they are comfortable with. This program offers them a way to learn about it in a safe, fun environment and then be able to bring it to the classroom. Learning on SparkFun kits and the knowing that they can use these same kits in the classroom makes it a more enjoyable experience, and opens up new avenues to engage learners like never before.
Programs like the one at Coppell High School are incredible inspirations. We want to help others establish similar programs by increasing interest in the STEAM fields and we believe the SparkFun National Tour is a nice step in the right direction. Support our National Tour today!