STEM Hubs Blog

Two new STEM hubs come online

The state recently funded two new Regional STEM Hubs, bringing the total statewide to 13. These Hubs bring together schools, nonprofits, businesses, and local leaders to drive hands-on learning in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. The new Hubs are:

  • Mid-Valley Mid-Coast STEM-CTE, serving Benton, Linn and parts of Lincoln County, received $47,382. It is a partnership among Lane Benton Community College and Oregon State University, the Linn Benton Lincoln Educational Service District, K-12 school, and industry and community partners. The Hub aims to provide a unified, coordinated approach to meeting workforce needs and addressing social and economic inequities in the region.
  • Northwest STEM Hub, serving Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook counties, received $49,875. Housed at the Northwest Regional Education Service District (ESD), the mission of the Northwest STEM Hub is to provide local students the opportunity to develop real-world skills linked to high-wage and high-demand careers and postsecondary education and training.

Stoller Student Selected as Global Finalist in Google Fair

Beaverton Valley Times, Ravleen Kaur,  Aug 18

When she was four or five years old, Anushka Naiknaware’s favorite place in the whole world was the chemistry lab at Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

Every week, Anushka would beg her parents to take her to OMSI. There, she’d spend entire days in the museum’s labs, finishing every single experiment available to tinker with before leaving.

“I’ve always loved science because everything you do has a real-life application in the world,” said Anushka, an incoming eighth-grader at Stoller Middle School.

Last week, she found out that she’s a global finalist in the highly competitiveGoogle Science Fair.

Her project contributes to the field of wound management, identifying two critical issues: preventing fatal blood loss and keeping wounds at the proper moisture level to encourage rapid healing.

Next month, she’ll fly to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., to compete for the grand prize against 15 other projects from around the world.

Anushka, who is 13 years old, created a wound dressing using chitosan, a natural polymer found in crustacean shells, which has a remarkable ability to clot blood quickly. She also created a cost-effective sensor that measures the amount of moisture in the wound dressing to help ensure optimal healing.

Anushka has spent her middle school years progressing through the tiers of local, regional, and national science fairs. In every competition, she strives to bring something unique to the table.

Through her work, she’s learned that the so-called STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — all connect. Her project involves medicine, chemistry, physics and computer science.

“I can’t do a science fair project that somebody has already done,” said Anushka. “Personally, I want my idea to be unique. I don’t even care if it fails, but I want it to be my own.”

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Naiknaware strives for innovation in all her science projects, including her wound management technology that won her a place in the Google Science Fair finals.

SUBMITTED PHOTO – Naiknaware strives for innovation in all her science projects, including her wound management technology that won her a place in the Google Science Fair finals.

The data she collects will be stored in an online cloud, making it accessible in situations where bulky equipment isn’t feasible.

While people often focus on notorious medical problems, such as malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS, they sometimes forget to consider that more people die of injuries every year than all of those conditions combined.

Anushka’s project could have huge implications for the military, helping injured soldiers in a rapid and cost-effective manner.

Stoller, understandably, doesn’t allow students to use bacteria or pathogens during experiments. That was hard for Anushka, who researched Ph.D academic articles to find the information she needed for her projects.

“That was definitely a challenge,” said Anushka. She created a water-and-vinegar solution to model the alkalinity and consistency of blood.

“You have to work through, like, a hundred iterations before it finally works, before you finally get it right,” said Anushka.

She lists Nobel Prize-winning scientist Marie Curie as her role model.

“The fact that she was a girl and she kept going in that time period is amazing,” said Anushka.

She’s sometimes faced stereotypes that as a girl, she might not be as invested in STEM fields.

“But if you prove yourself, that goes away,” she said.

Anushka loves to read, figure skate, and watch the Olympics.

“Sometimes, we have to give her a time-out from books,” said her father, Ravi Naiknaware, laughing. “But we just encourage her to pursue what she enjoys.”

Oregon’s STEM Hub Network Welcomes Two Americorp VISTA Members

In 2015, Oregon’s statewide network of eleven regional STEM Hubs was selected as one of 27 communities recognized by the National STEM Funders Network for innovative cross-sector partnership work focused on alignment and coordination of systems to support applied learning opportunities for Oregon’s learners. With support from the Chief Education Office and the Oregon Department of Education, South Metro Salem STEM Partnership (SMSP) and the Southern Oregon STEM Hub applied and were awarded two full-time Americorps VISTA volunteers through the STEM Funders Network’s STEM Ecosystems Initiative to support communications and the integration of youth voice and empowerment in design and decision-making regarding applied learning opportunities.

SMSP Welcomes Communications volunteer

The South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership, hosted by Oregon Tech in Wilsonville, is excited to welcome an Americorps VISTA member in August to support capacity-building goals in the area of communication and outreach for the entire state STEM Hub network.  Ian Zentner, a recent computer science graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz, will bring enthusiasm and skills developed through his extracurricular management of a college community radio program to the work of the STEM Hubs.

Ian will support the STEM Hub Network in two main ways.  First, he will facilitate the development of shared communication and marketing materials that support the development and distribution of some common core messages.  This work is critically important in strengthening the larger network infrastructure that unites the STEM Hubs.  Second, the South Metro-Salem STEM partnership developed and launched an online platform in early 2015, Oregon Connections, for industry professionals to engage with educators and students to expose students to the real-world applications of academic concepts and available career pathways.  Investments from the Department of Education and Higher Education Coordinating Commission’s Office of Community College and Workforce Development allowed for the expanded licensure of Oregon Connections to teachers throughout the state, beginning in Fall 2016.  Ian will support the development of training and recruitment materials to bring industry and community professionals into the system to support student learning in all areas of the state.

The Southern Oregon STEM Hub Welcomes Youth Voice VISTA Member

The Southern Oregon STEM Hub is thrilled to welcome an Americorps VISTA member, Allison Sweeney, who will support the Hub’s work in incorporating youth voice into STEM initiatives. With Allison’s leadership as a program coordinator, The Southern Oregon STEM Hub will pilot an initiative called the Chief Science Officer program beginning Fall 2016 with an eye to building a statewide network of young STEM leaders who will be empowered to take action and to be at decision-making tables regarding STEM opportunities in their schools and across the State of Oregon. Chief Science Officers are peer elected middle and high school students who build leadership skills and use them to bring exciting STEM experiences to their campus in order to foster a culture of curiosity and a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, helping to build a diverse and creative workforce. They also represent their peers in the STEM community and provide youth input to leaders in education and industry, providing a bridge between our current learners and the fastest growing sector of careers. Allison will focus her first year on building relationships with schools, community organizations, and industry partners to create a network of committed adults who will support the training and work of 50 CSOs who will be elected in Spring 2017. Over the next three years we hope to support at least 80 Chief Science Officers representing all 13 school districts in Jackson, Josephine, and Klamath Counties.

White House Recognizes Oregon STEM Leader as a “Champion of Change for Making”

Last week, the White House recognized ten individuals from across the country as “White House Champions of Change for Making.”

According to the White House, individuals were selected for their personal passion and tireless efforts to make advances in technology and platforms, educational opportunities, or spaces that empower even more Americans to become tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs.

Oregon’s John Niebergall was recognized for his more than 32 years dedication to training the next generation as an educator in the Sherwood School District in Sherwood, Oregon. He has worked tirelessly to provide his students with hands-on, contextualized learning experiences and has directly raised more than $825,000 through grants and in-kind contributions to establish a classroom and mobile Fab Lab. As a result of access to both top-level instruction and industry-standard software with state-of-the-art prototyping equipment, numerous students in Mr. Niebergall’s class have launched student-run, school-based enterprises. Of particular note is his successful efforts to create a culture of inclusion in his classroom with a notably high participation of female students. His instructional approach allows students direct experiences with the real-world challenges of designing, developing, manufacturing, and marketing. John has mentored other career and technical education (CTE) programs and educators.

This celebration comes on the anniversary of the first-ever White House Maker Faire in June 2014 where President Obama launched the Nation of Makers initiative, an all-hands-on-deck call to make sure more students, entrepreneurs, and Americans of all backgrounds have access to a new class of technologies—such as 3D printers, laser cutters, and desktop machine tools—that are enabling more Americans to design, build, and manufacture just about anything.  Last year, the President expanded the work and asked “all Americans to help unlock the potential of our Nation and ensure these opportunities reach all our young people, regardless of who they are or where they come from.”

Oregon Robotics Teams Win Big at FTC World Championship

Submitted by the Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program

St. Louis, Missouri, May 1, 2016: The Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program (ORTOP) is pleased to announce that Oregon teams did well at the FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC) World Championship held at the Union Station, St. Louis, Missouri, from April 27-30, 2016.  7 Oregon FIRST Tech Challenge teams made up of middle and high school were among 128 teams from 16 participating countries. During the winter season each team designed and built a custom robot to compete in this year’s challenge called RES-Q.  Hot Wired from Westview High School, Sunset High School and Spark Technology Education took 1st place Inspire Award, the program’s most prestigious and highest honor.  This marks the first time an Oregon team has won.




To read the Beaverton Valley Times article on this, click here.



Science Lab at the Coast and 3D Arts in Lane County Round out #STEMWeekOregon

We are in the last days of #STEMWeekOregon and there are still many activities happening around the state.

In Newport in the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, the Hatfield Marine Science Center is hosting hands-on marine science labs and field classes for registered K-12 groups.

Photo from @OregonSeaGrant

As part of Lane County STEM Hub’s activities, Eugene Maker Space will host their spring 2016 open house on the 7th and provide opportunities for attendees to use 3D printers, laser cutters and engravers, and woodworking tools to get creative.

Photo of student 3D printing art from @jkjohnsonbell

There is still time for you to share YOUR STEM activity by posting with #STEMWeekOregon.

Senator Wyden visits Beaverton High School for STEM Week and STEMapalooza is tonight in Tigard

Senator Wyden visited with classrooms and the robotics team at Beaverton High School , one of the district’s ‘future ready’ pilot programs, for STEM Week.

roverbottle guitarwyden at table

In Tigard,  today is STEMapalooza in the South Metro STEM Hub! At Figets2Widgets, students’ STEM work from the region in is being showcased in this science fair-style event.

Tag your activities for STEM week by posting with #STEMWeekOregon.

#STEMWeekOregon Participants Build Roller Coasters and Create Wetlands

#STEMWeekOregon is going strong!

In the Frontier STEM Hub, Alameda Elementary School students are participating in H2O Explorations, water safety, and going on a virtual field trip. Meanwhile Vale High School students are presenting a self-created rollercoaster model to an Idaho theme park, while other students practice crash test reconstruction with the Malheur County Sheriffs Department and Oregon State Police.

In Central STEM Hub at the Cove Palisades Park, local students are creating wetlands, a monarch butterfly weigh station, and restoring a paddle wheel to create electricity for the park!

Tag your activities for STEM week by posting with #STEMWeekOregon.

#STEMWeekOregon Activities in Ashland and Junction City

It is #STEMWeekOregon and there are events happening across the state and in your area.

All this week in the Lane County STEM Hub, Junction City schools will be creating model cities to study storm water run-off and municipal treatment systems.

In Ashland this week, middle school students have the opportunity to explore conductivity, circuits, and switches to make wearable electronic inventions at the Science Works Hands-On Museum.

Tag your activities for STEM week by posting with #STEMWeekOregon.

Crescent Valley robotics headed to world competition for fourth straight year

Around 17 kids from Crescent Valley High School will be heading to St. Louis, Missouri, on Tuesday for the FIRST Robotic Competition’s world championship.

For the seniors on the team, it’s a familiar trip: this is the fourth straight year that the team has gone to the world championship after qualifying through regional competitions.

Towaki Takikawa, a Crescent Valley senior and the team’s captain, said that their goal each year is to make it to the world championship, and doing it four years in a row feels like a big accomplishment. About 600 teams from around the world will be competing in the event, which runs April 27 to 30; about 3,000 teams participate in FIRST Robotics worldwide.

This year’s competition gives teams the task of driving robots over obstacles to score points by throwing balls into targets.

Takikawa and a handful of the team’s other seniors will be traveling with the team for the fourth year to the world championship.

“It feels really good we’re getting to be regionally competitive,” said Takikawa, who plans to study at the University of Waterloo in Canada next year.

The successful run is significant too, Takikawa said Thursday night during a team meeting, because the year before he and the team’s other seniors started high school, Crescent Valley’s team was ranked at the bottom of the region.

He said he thinks the key to the turnaround was that the team began to design the entire robot in Solidworks, so they have a complete three-dimensional model of their robot before they build it.

“A lot of it was changing the design process,” he said.

The team already has shipped its robot to St. Louis and has only had limited access to it since the beginning of the competition season under FIRST rules. However, they are planning last-minute modifications to the robot, such as adding more wheels to its throwing mechanism to make it more consistently accurate and building a new cage to hold balls in when they drive through obstacles.

The team has a second practice robot that they can use to test the modifications to make sure they work, and when they arrive at the competition they will install their new parts.

Graham Barber, another senior going to the world championships for the fourth time, said the team has been working to steadily improve its robot throughout the season, and he’s confident the latest changes they’ve made will give them a competitive edge at the world championship.

“At the very least we’ve ramped up our competitive level to be on the level for worlds,” he said.

Barber, who is interested in studying entrepreneurship at Oregon State University next year, said he is hoping the team makes the finals in their division.

Barber, the team’s human resources manager, said he thinks part of their success is due to the fact that there isn’t a lot of separation between the teams working on the robot’s various subsystems. This keeps everyone in communication and allows the team to be flexible, he said.

“It’s really easy to take it for granted, but the fact that we can compete at such a high level out of 3,000 teams is amazing,” he said.

Andrey Kornilovich, who also will go to worlds with the team for the fourth time this year, said he likes that he’s been able to see the team get a little better each year.

“We’re always looking to do a little better each year at worlds,” he said.

Kornilovich, the design captain for the team, said his favorite part of the world championship is walking around and talking to other teams about how they designed their robots to meet the year’s challenge.

All three agreed seeing the team’s underclassmen finding excitement in building robots is part of what makes the countless hours they’ve spent working on the team’s projects worthwhile.

“This year, with this influx of freshmen, makes me optimistic for future years,” said Kornilovich, who plans to study mechanical engineering at OSU next year.

“Seeing other people are willing to carry on the legacy is really great,” said Barber.