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ECE Outreach soon hits 10,000

In a quest to find the engineers of tomorrow, ECE's Outreach Program soon hits a major milestone in its seven-year history.

Standing in a bustling classroom at the Marysville Early College STEM School on April 8, ECE Outreach Program Director Dr. Betty Lise Anderson said she expects to have a total of 10,000 students reached soon.

"We started doing this in 2008. This is the 83rd different school we have been to. Some of them we have been to many times," Anderson said. "We're somewhere between 9,000 and 10,000 kids so far. Today, we're going to pad our stats with another couple hundred, so it's going to be great."

The Marysville STEM school (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) caught statewide attention after it was awarded a $12,497,282 grant via the Ohio Department of Education's new Straight A Fund. The funding helped renovate its new space from a formerly vacant middle school building. This is the first year tech students have graced its hallways.

Anderson is often joined by assistant Clayton Greenbaum, who said he feels both challenged and rewarded by talking to students about engineering. His equal dedication to the program has helped keep it moving forward.

In class that day, Anderson and Greenbaum taught the freshmen students how to build a paper speaker. They talked about the science behind taking simple household tools and creating something useful out of them; something that even plugs right into their smart phones.

"We started doing this as a recruiting effort to try and get kids to come to Ohio State, but we soon came to our senses and realized there was so much value just bringing all this stuff to kids all over the place, just to get them excited about STEM," Anderson said. "And actually, I don't even care if they really understand how the speaker works at the end. All I really care is that they have a successful opportunity to build something and walk away saying, 'Hey, I built this. I can do this!'"

"I'm probably going to be an engineer at some point," student Rachel Ladefoged said. "I've always just kind of liked science. One year, I learned that there was a program for engineering at a summer camp. So I went to it and I really liked it."

"I just want to be a crash test engineer," student Nathan DeWitt said. "That sounds like fun, crashing cars for a living. I always liked messing with things when I was a kid. I just like figuring out how to fix things and make them better."

Marysville Exempted Village School District STEM teacher Jen Solomon said having collegiate professionals come in to speak with the young students is invaluable. 

"For all of these students who are so interested and passionate about science and engineering and math - to have professionals come in and show them what a college-level student is working on, what sort of things they can get their hands on when learning about engineering - it's going to be incredibly valuable to them," Solomon said. "It's an opportunity that not that many students around the country get."

Greenbaum said most times the program visits a few different schools a month. The past week, he said, was unique in that they hit a different school every single day.

To learn more about the ECE Outreach program, watch this video from their day at the Marysville Early College High School: https://youtu.be/OAuUr87g4ck