UConn’s STEM Pipeline

Phoebe Szarek ’17 (ENG) a graduate student, helps eighth grade girls from Corpus Christi school in Wetherfield build electric motors during the Multiply Your Options conference at the Student Union on Oct. 13, 2017. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

A simple experiment involving a water bottle filled with nitrogen and a few bendable drinking straws may be all it takes to spark an interest in science, according to Phoebe Szarek.

Which is why Szarek often demonstrated the “Hero’s Engine” when she visited high schools around the state as a delegate of the School of Engineering’s Ambassador Program. Depending on how students bent the straws, the little steam engine spun in various ways, fufilling Szarek’s goal of generating interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

“I really enjoy science and I wanted to share that,” says Szarek ’17 (ENG), of her experience as an undergraduate engineering ambassador. “I think a lot of kids don’t realize what’s possible until they see the options open to them.”

Since she was in eighth-grade in Tolland, Szarek, 22, has been part of the STEM pipeline, a term used to describe the educational pathway for students into the four broadly defined fields.

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Published: January 16, 2018