Doug Arbon

In the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic the future seems fluid and opaque, but our future as a species will be guided by STEM. And not just for this Pandemic, but for looming opportunities and challenges provided by Climate Change, Artificial Intelligence, DNA manipulations, and Explorations of our Solar System.

For the past few decades, our schools have not been producing enough STEM oriented students to fill the demands of Hi Tech Companies. So these companies have filled the void by hiring foreign born college graduates – and we have benefited immensely from this cultural and technological infusion (TESLA, GOOGLE, etc.).

But a STEM Education is not just an integral part of our Economy; it is a key component of Civil Rights and Gender Equality. It provides access to the first rung of the financial ladder to success, and is why Rotary needs to be involved.

One of the major Rotary supported STEM activities is Robotics. After observing a nascent autonomous robotics program at Hoover HS and Wilson Middle School, we invited the Hoover Cluster of 10 Elementary Schools to participate in the Autonomous Robotics program called Junior Botball, and watched it catch on fire. We provided the funding for the Botball Robotics units, and provided the learning resources for reticent Teachers. This is a Teacher Driven Program.

We’ve evolved to having STEM Committed Teachers whom we call “School Champions” (but whom we should call “Heroes”), and encourage them with stipends to defray expenses.

Why Join:  We look upon ourselves as Catalysts or Facilitators for STEM. And we do not have preconceived ideas about where we’re going!

So, if you might be interested in anything to do with STEM, or just might want to see students deeply enmeshed in profound thinking, pondering “what the heck went wrong with my coding of the robot”, or see the exuberant “Hi Fives” after seeing their robots complete a “Challenge”, a “Challenging Course or Task”, drop by to see the future generation in action at one of our “Botball Challenges” (for the Elementary students) or “Botball Competitions” (for the Middle and High School students).

We welcome any suggestions or leads that you think might be helpful to us. And you are invited to come and be transformed, like the students themselves, as they become involved in the Rotary STEM activities.

Here is a recent video that illuminates some of our impact … STEM Overview

The Club also supports STEM through the CADES Scholarship.  More information can be found here