Community Outreach in the Midwest: STEAM Education

Young people are the future of STEAM, and STEAM education helps ignite the minds of students all over the world.

As we kicked off 2024, Bolton & Menk employees were excited to connect with students within our local communities, learning about their interests and how students would like to see their communities flourish and grow.

“That was fun!” said one student at Madelia High School after racing with her classmates to build the tallest spaghetti tower with Bolton & Menk volunteers. “Usually when I think about engineering, I think about numbers and math. I don’t think about drawing or getting to work in a team.”

STEAM Education in Action: Minnesota Science and Engineering Fair

Students discovered STEAM education through various ways, affirmed by Bolton & Menk volunteers at the Minnesota Science and Engineering Fair. More than 175 students submitted 150 STEAM-related projects, impressing the volunteers on the variety and range of interests included in the submissions.

The hardest thing was narrowing down the project that fit our company mission,” said Water Resources Design Engineer Jake Hendel. “There were a lot of brilliant projects that fell outside of our mission that I thought deserved some recognition – along with those great ones that did fit it.”

The winning projects ranged from road salt reduction, biodegradable mango peel packaging, and a bicycle blind spot detection device. The three winners of the Bolton & Menk Young Inventor Award received a certificate, t-shirt, $500 award, and job shadow at Bolton & Menk.

Proud Partnerships: Minnesota MATHCOUNTS

Bolton & Menk volunteers also connected with young minds through the long-standing STEAM competition MATHCOUNTS. Bolton & Menk is proud to have first partnered with Minnesota MATHCOUNTS more than 30 years ago. With many Bolton & Menk employees serving as volunteers at local chapter events, it was a momentous occasion to see the students’ hard work pay off at the state tournament in March.

“Students who attend MATHCOUNTS learn problem solving skills, growth mindset, and collaboration,” said Design Engineer and MATHCOUNTS Coordinator Kristina Brierley. “I have had parents tell me stories about their mathletes coming into the program struggling with life skills and through their three years of time with MATHCOUNTS come out with the ability to problem solve and collaborate with others on non-math related topics.”

Career Exploration with TrigStar

Local students also competed in the TrigStar program, sponsored by the Minnesota Society of Professional Surveyors. The 2024 program marked the 22nd anniversary of the first competition, established in 2002. Principal Surveyor Janele Fowlds and Survey Manager Jesse Zeig worked with volunteers to build an awareness of land surveying as a profession among high school students, career guidance counselors, and high school teachers. Students were able to apply trigonometry and math lessons from school directly into land surveying, opening their eyes to a potential future career pathway.

Hands-on STEAM Education: Enviroscape

Bolton & Menk volunteers found hands-on ways to engaged local communities by using our interactive Enviroscape models. Besides taking trips to various classrooms across Minnesota and Iowa, our Enviroscape also made a visit to the College of Saint Benedict to be featured at the annual Frozen Water Fest. Over 300 fourth graders attended to learn about STEAM education, natural resources, and the world around them.

“This age group is so hopeful and creative,” said Water Resources Education Specialist Kathryn Farber. “I love seeing the future through their eyes.”

STEAM Education Enviroscape demonstration

Making a Difference

Our volunteers continue to work hard to bring STEAM education opportunities to the communities we serve, while making the world a safer, more sustainable, and beautiful place. 

LilyWoman with long hair smiling at camera is Bolton & Menk’s training and outreach coordinator who uses her can-do attitude to assist in internal training and facility coordination, volunteer recruitment and sponsorship opportunities for outside organizations, and develop tools and materials for outreach activities. Her experience includes program management, specifically in assisting and designing programs, communication quality oversight, and assembling, reviewing, and testing data. Beginning her career in 2019 and bringing with her three years of experience as a volunteer-coordinator for Gustavus Adolphus College, Lily’s expertise in designing and planning events as well as her insightful recruitment techniques allow the talent management work group to run smoothly and efficiently. In her spare time, Lily enjoys reading, writing, exploring new sushi restaurants, and playing collaborative board games.

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