Mind Trekkers: A Science Cookbook at your Fingertips

Institution: Michigan Technological University
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Why This Project Is Important 

Currently, only five percent of U.S. workers are employed in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) jobs, yet STEM jobs are responsible for more than 50 percent of our sustained economic expansion. This project connects with students, families, and educators where they are most comfortable communicating—their technology—and through a multidimensional approach that provides them innovative ways to engage in STEM activities. The Mind Trekkers application will not only sustain engagement with students attending Mind Trekkers events. It will also provide a familiar platform to attract more students into engaging with a program that is transforming how we inspire students to engage and pursue STEM academic and career opportunities. The application will also serve as an innovative, on-demand tool for educators who are looking for new, fun, and unique activities to implement in their classroom. Recent research has shown 73 percent of teachers use mobile technology in the classroom for assignments. Additionally, more than 600 school districts in 2011 nationwide implemented tablet programs in the classrooms and more than 1.5 million tablets are currently being used by students in the United States. A clear and present demand exists for a creative education-based application, particularly one that allows people to utilize the basic materials and supplies around them. Mind Trekkers has bridged the “STEM attraction gap” with students, capturing their attention and stirring their imagination to discover the science behind the mystery they experienced. The Mind Trekkers mobile application will provide them another tool to continue to question and explain the mysteries they experience in everyday life. This application will feed that newly activated sense of wonder, inspiring them to continue to discuss, explore, and pursue the science behind the mystery in the world they live in. The impact will be found in their classroom discussions, their conversations with friends and relatives, their choices in careers, and most importantly their contributions to our society and economy.

Project Description 

Mind Trekkers students will create a mobile application that can be downloaded to any mobile device, initially with an Android operating system. The application will keep users up-to-date with Michigan Tech Mind Trekkers, inspiring them to discover the science behind the mystery using technology that serves as the primary communication tool for the next generation. The application will highlight an innovative “Science Cookbook,” which will host a library of lesson plans for dozens of engaging, hands-on science projects that can be done at home, in the classroom, or anywhere. Users will simply input any number of materials and supplies they have on hand or are willing to retrieve, and the application will output several activities that can be immediately created! Teachers will be particularly pleased, as each lesson plan will include any applicable national standards that are met with each activity. The home screen will display a continuous news feed, pulling from the Mind Trekkers YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. Media feeds will contain information from current Mind Trekkers events including: streaming and recorded video, photographs, larger event maps to guide them to the Mind Trekkers booth, stories about the Mind Trekkers team, and much more. The application will allow you to create your own user account. Here you can update your profile and get connected with the Mind Trekkers and other users who share your passion for science!

Meet the Researchers

Steve Patchin

Steve received his Masters in Educational Leadership from the University of Cincinnati in 2007. He has also received a B.S. in Business Administration with a Minor in Finance, and a B.S. in Social Sciences with a Minor in Mathematics from Michigan Technological University. Steve is a former middle and high school teacher who spent 10 years in industry before entering the classroom. Before accepting the directorship, Steve had been working for Youth Programs during the summer for 6 years. His hobbies include coaching, boating, various outdoor sports, and most importantly, spending time with his wife, three children, and two dogs. Steve is currently purusing his doctorate through University of Nebraska - Lincoln.

Cody Kangas

As Director of the Center for Pre-College Outreach at Michigan Tech, Cody leads a team of six to deliver three innovative university flagship operatives--Mind Trekkers, Summer Youth Programs, College Access Programs--as well as develop the Pre-College Innovative Outreach Institute. Prior to coming to Michigan Tech in 2008, Cody worked in several academic and athletic outreach programs, including Ann Arbor Public Schools and the United States Olympic Committee. While at Michigan Tech Cody has served on a number of task forces and steering committees, managed the delivery of innovative outreach programming for several hundred-thousand students and families through federal and private-funded sponsors, and created effective partnerships with stakeholders across K-12 schools, industry representatives, and non-profit organizations. Cody holds an MAED in Postsecondary Leadership from Michigan State University, and a BA in Sport Management from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. He is a proud father of two girls and spends his free time with his wife and family, traveling, and playing the guitar.

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What Your Donation Can Help Us Do: 

  • Compensate Michigan Tech students to create, field test, and modify this smart-phone application.
  • Create interactive displays to promote the free download of this application at each Mind Trekkers event ranging in size from 600 students at a Southwest Michigan College event in Dowagiac, Mich. to the 250,000-attendee USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington D.C.

$1 0 Funders

$1-24: Receipt acknowledging tax-deductible status of your donation

$25 0 Funders

$25-49: The above, plus Mind Trekkers wrist band

$50 0 Funders

$50-99: All of the above, plus five do-it-at-home Mind Trekker activity instructions

$100 0 Funders

$100-249: All of the above, plus Mind Trekkers "I got my GEEK on at Michigan Tech" T-shirt

$250 0 Funders

$250-499: All of the above, plus 10 do-it-at-home Mind Trekker activity instructions

$500 0 Funders

$500-999: All of the above, plus an interview with the team by phone, Skype, or in person at the University (travel not included)

$1,000 0 Funders

$1000+: All of the above, plus a significant memento from the project. (This will include recognition of the donors’ support in this initiative in the 2013 Center for Pre-College Outreach Annual Report).

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