Many of the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium’s FloridaLearns STEM Scholars Project participants will begin the academic year with new skills, developed through participation in one of the project-sponsored Summer Challenges. The Summer Challenges gave gifted and talented students in the consortium-served small and rural districts opportunities to explore STEM content in depth, collaboratively problem solve and conduct investigations, enhance leadership skills and learn about STEM careers.
STEM Scholars from Franklin and Gulf Counties participated in a four-day STEM experience, Surviving with Water AKA the 21st Century MacGyver, at the Advanced Technology Center located on the Panama City Campus of Gulf Coast State College. Associate Professor Antonio Adessi, Coordinator of Engineering Programs at GCSC and Associate Professor of Physical Science, Jamie Webb, challenged students to create, design and construct a solar desalinization device to extract fresh water from seawater and a personal water purification device to remove waterborne pathogens from drinking water. This challenge heightened student awareness of the scarcity of suitable drinking water from a global perspective as they were immersed in the work of a hydrologist. Collaborating as a team, students learned how to use computer modeling tools and 3-D printers to produce prototypes of their products.
This engagement in an authentic STEM research experience, under the guidance of Professors Adessi and Webb, provided students with valuable information about potential STEM career options as they worked as a research team to creatively solve a real world problem.