Colby Co. Brings STEM Fun to Madison High School

On Wednesday, January 26, 2022 eight members of the Colby Co. crew headed north to Madison Area Memorial High School in Madison, ME. There, the Colby Co. team surprised nearly 70 students with an introduction into the engineering profession along with a STEM activity that included the creation of a ventilated clean room for health care workers.

This was the first time many students had been exposed to the engineering field, and for many students this was the first time in years where they were able to collaborate with teams since the beginning of the pandemic. Many members from the school commented that they noticed students who are usually quiet in the classroom emerge as leaders within this hands-on experiment, and groups of students who normally wouldn’t work together rise together in collaboration.

Heather Sustersic, PE led a presentation that included highlighting the different engineering fields along with their function and importance to the assembly of kids, while Amanda Vogler, LEED spoke about Mechanical Engineering and its importance in the activity created by the Colby Co. team. 

With 40 minutes on the timer, the high school students were tasked to create a well-ventilated hospital room where the goal was to keep the health care provider safe from a contaminated patient. Students used tools like fans, blowers, ductwork, plastic sheets, tape and scissors to create a ventilated space that would move contaminated air through the room while keeping the healthcare worker at minimal exposure. Once their rooms were complete, students tested their experiment by having a patient “cough” cornstarch in the room while the healthcare worker tried to care for the patient within a 2 minute period. The room that moved the air the most with their designed ventilation system, and kept the cornstarch from attaching to the healthcare worker, won a prize.

During the event, the Colby Co. team met with students to encourage their critical thinking and problem solving, while keeping them on task with a limited budget and resources. They shared their own problem solving techniques and unique challenges within the industry.