Driving Tomorrow’s Industry by Investing in Today’s Youth
Igniting the creative potential of students through the exploration of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), the SquareOne Education Network (SQ1) has been committed to influence through education since 1992. Serving youth in inner city, suburban and rural communities across Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, this non-profit—along with the support of corporate and university partners—provides students in Kindergarten through twelfth grade with hands-on, STEM focused learning opportunities.
A conduit to satisfying industry demand for technology leaders, SQ1 designs and implements projects that cultivate dynamic and rewarding learning environments. These projects, based upon the varying curriculum of each school and region, create a diverse portfolio of innovative, technology rich education.
A leading program within SQ1 is the Innovative Vehicle Design (IVD) family of projects, which enables high school student teams to build full-size, hybrid-electric and mini battery-powered vehicles, including underwater, lunar and aero vehicles. Co-sponsored—both financially and with engineering expertise—by an industry partner, the IVD programs spur healthy competition while demanding innovative design and building skills from today’s youth. Currently, schools in Southfield, Bad Axe, Ferndale, Big Rapids, Melvindale, Pontiac and Dearborn are participating in the full-scale competition. The smaller competitions are linking schools on a larger scale, including: Portage, Roscommon, Traverse City, Manistique, Port Hope, Utica, Waterford, Dollar Bay, Alpena, Flint, Spring Lake, and more!
In addition to the IVD programs, SQ1 sponsors many other STEM initiatives, including:
Connected Vehicles Project
Enterprising engineers at Owosso High School in Owosso, Mich., under the leadership of former GM engineer, Dave Acton, study and engineer “cars that cannot crash”—or IntelliDrive. This is just the beginning of a new and emerging set of technologies designed to keep drivers safer.
Computer Lab Project
Technology-curious students at University High School in Ferndale, Mich., built their school’s computer lab from the microchip up (as opposed to buying new) with the assistance of SQ1. Now, they are assisting another school by building a set of computers for them! This stemmed from our partnership with Purdue University.
Engineering Discovery Project
Girls at the all-female Regina High School in South Euclid, Ohio, are taking part in a pre-engineering initiative that incorporates technology into the learning process, strengthening future real-world opportunities.
Kids of all ages at Miller Elementary School in Center Line, Mich., are experiencing “How the World Works” through the eyes of an engineer during a three-year study currently underway and in partnership with Purdue University Department of Engineering Education.
Some school districts have elected to establish new engineering courses based upon our framework projects. Frankenmuth, Owosso, Ferndale and Southfield have all stepped into new arenas as they attempt to offer their students new and relevant learning opportunities for their students.
Supported by corporate sponsors like Dassault Systemes, who provides CATIA Version 5 programming to participating high schools, and in partnership with such prestigious programs as Kettering University’s Crash Analysis Program, Michigan Technological University’s YES Expo, and Purdue University’s Department of Engineering Education, SQ1 projects strive to maintain our nation’s legacy as a forerunner in technology and innovation.
Teacher Professional Development
SquareOne has focused on developing expert teachers through relevant, challenging and innovative classroom experiences. Several very successful workshops are now held annually as a part of the fabric that we have become known for. They include:
The Science of Cell Phones and Wireless Communications
We have discovered that these devices can be used to effectively teach physics concepts (vibrations and waves, sound, light, and electromagnetism), technology, engineering, and mathematics. Teachers not only learn the science, they also learn: How to teach the concepts to your own students and to other teachers. The program is inquiry- based and student-centered. Participants design, build, and test devices to send and receive their voices over personal radios, light beams, and through optical fibers. Participants learn the fundamental of GSM and CDMA systems and structures of cell networks and the answers to most common questions about cell phones. Primary design of this initiative came from physics teachers Mark Davids, Don Pata and Rick Forrest.
Remote Operated Underwater Vehicles in the Classroom
This workshop provides a truly unique educational outreach opportunity that includes the resources, instruction and support, for the designing, engineering, and building of a fully functional underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV). One of the most successful workshops we offer, this unique blend of engineering, science, problem solving and teamwork has captured the attention of every demographic classroom where it has been employed. Designed by teachers in Michigan, this is an excellent and affordable program offering. Physics teacher, Keith Forton is the lead designer of this initiative.
GPS and Geocaching
Teachers expand their technological comfort zones and create a dynamic learning environment in their math, science, or social studies classrooms. GPS Guru, Mike Olsen, Science and Technology Teacher at OSMTech Academy, Clarkston, is our facilitator and leads us through a great day of hands-on learning. This hands-on workshop explores the “outdoor classroom” as we find and create geocaches. Strong partnerships with the Macomb Intermediate School District have allowed excellent training sessions to occur.
Hybrid Vehicle Technologies for the High School Classroom
This framework curriculum is cutting edge curriculum has been released to engage high school students in complex research and exciting activities that relate to hybrid vehicles. Originally intended as a design module supporting the SquareOne Innovative Vehicle Design competition, this can be used as and addendum for high school physics, math and technology classes. Dr. David Turner, former Chief Technologist for the Eaton Corporation in Southfield, MI, did primary design.
Best Practices and Brain Research
The core of our work is grounded in the emerging research on natural learning and effective project design process. Often, schools and teachers attempt to implement something that someone else has created or established, thus shifting ownership and understanding away from the culture and organization within which the “program” is to be implemented. At SquareOne, we merge best teaching strategies and practices with effective facilitation of project design, setting a co-creative effort in motion. The results are proposals for funding that have the handprint and idea print of many teachers and often students all over them. Once funding is approved, the delivery of the ideas and establishment of dynamic, active and effective process steers the participants in passionate and visceral ways. Teachers and their students become highly engaged, not deliverers of the ideas of others.
The Executive Orchestrator of SquareOne is Karl Klimek, a product of the classroom, building administration, central office (curriculum) administration, program development and author of two key books that justify the practices employed by SquareOne.
12 Brain/Mind Learning Principles in Action: Developing the Executive Functions of the Human Brain (Corwin Press 2004 and 2008) provides the wealth of background research and teacher strategies that guide effective practice for teachers and administrators.
Generative Leadership: Shaping New Futures for Today’s Schools (Corwin Press 2008) literally takes the reader to a point of personal and organizational growth that targets the need for environments that are established around creative, innovative thinking and actions. Numerous activities and guides are offered to assist as generative environments and leadership allow for the percolation of new ideas and ultimately, exciting, effective results!
Board of Directors
SquareOne is privileged to have a diverse and high-quality board leading the charge. Members include a past president of the Michigan Science Teacher’s Association, a commercial airline pilot, electronics and mechanical engineers, solar and hybrid energy experts, vice presidents of technologies and automobile manufacturers and entrepreneurs. Each is committed to flexible, creative practices that bring powerful moments into the worlds of teachers and the young people they serve. Project Coordinator, Barbara Land, accents the management, delivery and creative designs of our collective work based from her excellent work as an urban outreach coordinator for the Boy Scouts of America in the Pontiac Public Schools.
The stories offer the most riveting results about the impact of the work we do. Each is unique and personal, and in many ways, life changing. However, as a means to apply a numeric metric, the SquareOne Education Network conducts a annual survey of high school students who have participated in one or more SQ1-sponsored projects.
Survey results reveal that three-quarters of students (74.7%) noted an increase in awareness of science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics (STEM) related careers. Even more astounding is the fact that 82.8 percent of students surveyed intend to pursue a career in one of these primary fields.