Kristin Roher is the STEM Coordinator for the OC STEM Initiative. Her work includes the design, development, implementation and coordination of several outreach programs and events, including Girls Maker Academy, Mobile FABLab, APPCamp and FABCamp. This past summer, her work involved piloting the APPCamp 2.0 program: a week-long introduction into text-based programming through Python and Raspberry Pi. This program built on concepts taught in the APPCamp 1.0 program where students learn block-based programming using Scratch, App Inventor and Arduino.
Prior to joining OC STEM, Kristin received her master’s degree in Information and Computer Science from the University of California, Irvine. During her graduate studies, Kristin had the privilege of working with Girls Inc. of Orange County to provide summer robotics camps to middle and high school girls. It was through this experience that she discovered her passion for educating and mentoring youth in STEM fields.
1) What excites you most about STEM Education?
STEM education is somewhat unique in that it encourages interdisciplinary work. This not only gives students a look into real world problems and examples but also provides a more engaging atmosphere to learn new concepts. I believe the interdisciplinary nature of STEM education inspires students of various ages, backgrounds and abilities to be immersed in their learning experience be it in the classroom or informally. Seeing those students excited and enjoying their education is what excites me.
2) What are your hopes for the future of STEM Education?
Over the next few years, I hope to see a shift in education to become more focused on inquiry-based and collaborative learning techniques. These techniques allow students to explore and problem-solve on their own with guidance from a facilitator. Through this type of learning, students are encouraged to be curious and resilient in moments of “failure”. These skills vital for future generations to be prepared for a career as well as all of life’s hurdles.
3) What are your current and/or past experiences with STEM Education – are there any highlights you would want people to know about the work UCI Samueli School of Engineering is doing at this time?
Currently the UCI Samueli School of Engineering is piloting a mobile FABLab. This will allow us to extend the outreach of our programs by bringing them directly to schools and events in Orange County. The FABLab will be a mobile maker space that includes 3d printers, a laser cutter, an electronics lab, Raspberry Pi computers and so on.
We are also working on creating new curriculum around the Sphero: a nearly indestructible robot that has a built-in gyroscope, accelerometer, stabilizer and motors and can be programmed using iPads. This fits in line with our current programming in that it gives students the chance to explore and have fun while learning STEM concepts through project-based learning.
The following video gives an overview of our APPCamp 2.0 program offered this past summer, and will be offered again this coming summer:
Thanks so much Kristin for sharing your thoughts and experience in the STEM fields!