American Education Week continued Thursday with Educator for a Day activities at several locations around the state. At Les Bois Junior High School in Boise, science teacher Brandon Hampton invited District 18 Representative Ilana Rubel to attend the district’s inaugural Engineering Day and Robotics competition.
In addition to Les Bois, teams from North, West and East Junior High schools competed in events such as video game design, catapults, robotics, Auto CAD, and CO2 propelled dragsters. Rep. Rubel visited with the students, handed out awards and talked about the importance of STEM education initiatives with Mr. Hampton and others in attendance. Rep. Rubel sits on the House Education Committee, and is investigating innovative academic ideas that can benefit Idaho students. “I thoroughly enjoyed seeing first-hand the great work that our students are doing in engineering and robotics,” she says. “The passion that Mr. Hampton and the other teachers pour into working with kids on hands-on projects is exciting and inspirational.”
Mr. Hampton is in his 15th year as a teacher, his 11th teaching Technical Education at Les Bois. He is a staunch advocate for STEM education and proud of the drive that kids in the Technology Student Association are displaying by participating in this competition. “They can apply what they learned in the classroom to the real world—how is this applicable to you and your life,” he says. “The biggest thread between all of this is problem solving. How can you be given a set of parameters and work to solve a specific problem?”
While many students clearly benefited from their classroom experiences and the district-wide competition, there was also troubling information shared. According to Mr. Hampton, there is an extensive waiting list for Technical Education classes because there are not enough instructors with the training and certification required to teach them. Funding issues and a lack of the needed programs at higher education institutions in Idaho are among the difficulties.
Nevertheless, Hampton and his colleagues—Nick Briggs at East Junior High School, Brian Johns at West Junior High School and Chris Armstrong at North Junior High School—are doing everything that they can to fan the flames of STEM curiosity in Boise students. You can’t count their special guest, Rep. Rubel, among those who are impressed.