From the Field: STEM in Action

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The focus of the Summer issue of Target magazine advocated for shared learning and encouraged careers in manufacturing starting at a young age. In support, AME offers a number of programs, such as Adopt-a-School, that connects manufacturers with schools in their communities to give students an opportunity to receive practical learning experience. This initiative complements the growing number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) classes in schools by providing students with hands-on experiences. (For more information, visit to learn more.)

Last month, AME received the following letter from a father who had experienced that shared learning as it took place at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC.

Here is a portion of his letter:

For us, it was a standard trip that we have made many times from the outer suburbs in Virginia. My three boys, ages 10, 12 and 15, are all familiar with the process and expectations. They argued about what they wanted to see: robotics, simulators, science experiments and the like.

They discussed seeing Mike Rowe from Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs”; Grammy Award-winning They Might Be Giants; Bill Nye, the Science Guy; Dr. Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist, best-selling author and populizer of science; Apollo Robbins from TV’s “Mind Games”; and John Scieszka … I know, I didn’t know the last one either. Scieszka is the author who finished Dr. Seuss’s last book and wrote “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales.”

We arrived early and waded through the crowds to have a look at the convention center floor to figure our route and what we needed to see first. My oldest son spied Think Geek, Lockheed Martin and lots of robotics. The middle one wanted to see the colleges since they do the fun/extreme experiments like dragon-breathe and shooting fire. The youngest looked on, seemingly overwhelmed by the sheer size, scope and complexity of the entire event.

Once we were let in, we skipped most of the medical section, headed over to the Career Pavilion to make a quick pass before heading to the Robotfest, National Science Foundation and NASA. Along the way, my wife stopped my forward progress when my youngest saw something that made his heart leap. What caught his eye was Legos at some obscure booth that I had no interest in. He is a Lego fanatic. He builds everything from the pre-made kits, whatever project comes to mind. For Easter, he built a family house complete with all of us participating in an Easter egg hunt. He does this for every occasion. He loves Legos.

Now here’s the reason I am sending you an email: Mick Wilz at the AME booth. The interest in Legos, the passion he conveyed, the connection he made and the time that he spent with us, especially my 10-year-old son made a huge impact. I have added him to the list of “Superstars,” and it’s one of my little guy’s favorites from the Science and Engineering Festival.

I am an engineer but my kids have their own interests. Generally, they’re interested in science, technology and engineering… but mostly because of video games. So, who’d have thought AME, a group I have never heard of in a part of the festival that I was going to breeze through (Career Pavilion), at a booth that I had dismissed could be a favorite, and by the way lead to a second favorite to the Cube Robots. Please thank Mick Wilz of Sur-Seal and let him know that he made one lasting impression…OK, scratch that, I mean two.

James Meade