August 30, 2013

Towers of Spaghetti and Marshmallow

Students in the STEPCentral program

With marshmallows in hand, 25 incoming first-year and transfer students participated in a six-week math and engineering program at Wentworth this summer. Designed to provide a hands-on learning experience by utilizing household items, the program was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Wentworth.

Last fall, Wentworth received a grant from the NSF to support its Ensuring Early Mathematics Success for STEM Majors (EEMS) initiative. The grant was $494,052, to be spread out over five years with this summer’s program being the first.

Students take part in the bridge program prior to entering college and increase their knowledge of STEM-related fields through a series of classes and workshops. The culmination of the students’ hard work is a spaghetti, tape and marshmallow tower team-building competition (pictured) designed to cap the program in a fun way.

“It demonstrates teamwork, creativity and design,” said Amanda Hattaway, chair of the Applied Mathematics Department of the final project.  “We ran the same competition earlier in the semester and the average free standing tower was 0" tall. When we ran it a second time the average free standing tower was 23" tall.”

Students build their tower

Hattaway shared that one of this year’s student participants said, “Overall (it was) a great program that everyone should apply for. The program has improved my math and social skills, and helped me figure out my way around campus."

The program will also be available for fall 2014 incoming students. More information can be found at STEPCentral.

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