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Here at SDSU we take an integrated approach to STEM education. At its core STEM education is not about science, technology, engineering or mathematics independently, rather it is the exploration and implementation of how these areas integrate together. Additionally, we have an inclusive philosophy that acknowledges how content beyond mathematics and sciences can enrich problem-based learning experience. All disciplines, in some way or the other, share a goal of problem solving, whether it is trying to understand something that is puzzling; finding a practical solution to a vexing situation; designing or creating something new and testing and evaluating it; or using prediction, reasoning and analysis to make a decision; interpretation or draw a conclusion.

STEM@SDSU conducts STEM related research project and through extension and outreach, provides resources and training for students, parents and teachers. Both of these areas have come together in our Rural Innovation Lab. The Rural Innovation Lab is a collaborative project with a local school district that is implementing an interdisciplinary, problem-based learning environment.

GEMS (Girls: Engineering, Mathematics, & Science logo

A one-day workshop for 8th Grade Girls exploring interests in engineering, mathematics and technology.

Event Details

Date and Location

March 28, 2020 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the SDSU Crothers Engineering Hall, Brookings, SD

Student Agenda

  • 9-9:30 a.m. – Registration and Refreshments, Crothers Engineering Hall 204
  • 9:30-10 a.m.– Welcome and Opening session
  • 10-10:15 a.m. – Ice Breaker
  • 10:15-11:45 a.m.– Session One
  • 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.– Lunch with speaker
  • 12:30-2:15 p.m.– Session Two
  • 2:15-2:45 p.m.– Ice Cream Break
  • 2:45-4:30 p.m.– Session Three
  • 4:30-4:50 p.m.– Closing Ceremony

Fee for students is $25 if registered by March 20, 2020 (deadline is March 27). Teachers and Guardians are free.

GEMS Registration

Planned Session Activities

Forensics - Behind the Scenes!

Forensic science is the study of objects that relate to a crime. Crimes occur multiple times per day across the world, and there are multiple steps before a suspect is determined to be “guilty." Where do statisticians fit into the process? In this activity, we will look at handwriting, fingerprint and measurement evidence found at a crime scene, learn how to apply statistics to the interpretation of forensic evidence to determine whether or not a suspect was present at a crime scene, and look at some of the tricks that people may use to cover their tracks! We will base this on data we will measure and collect during this activity. Fun for everyone!

Potential majors: Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Data Science

Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Water quality impacts many parts of our everyday lives and we impact water quality with many of our actions. In this project, students will look at a watershed that has been impacted by negative water quality. Students will work in teams to measure different water quality parameters in water samples to determine what might be causing the pollution and what can be done to mitigate the issue. At the end of the day, students will be able to recommend changes to improve water quality based on the measurements taken during the project.

Potential majors: Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Natural Resource Management


Moving from a science fiction novel to our workplace, robots are making a mark in history. Who will design and program the robots of the future, and what will they do for us? In this hands-on project, participants will program a LEGO-Mindstorm robot car to navigate a “treacherous” maze. This interactive project provides the great lesson of “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.”

Potential majors: Math, statistics, computer science, software engineering, computational science and statistics

Teacher/Guardian Sessions

Preparing Your Student for College and STEM Career Opportunities

Dr. Rich Reid, Associate Dean of Engineering, will present information on how students entering high school can better prepare themselves to compete for scholarships and demanding academic majors. Followed by Leah Brink, Human Resources Director at Daktronics, Inc., who will discuss STEM career opportunities. A panel discussion, comprised of SDSU students and industry professionals, will explore opportunities, expectations, rewards and skills associated with a STEM education and career. Panel members will discuss their academic and professional experiences in pursuing and managing a STEM career as well as how to make the most of the college experience. An interactive discussion with the audience to explore some of the common questions that students ask: topics such as choosing the best school, making the transition to college and a career.

Being an Engineer – Building an Earthquake Proof Cell Tower

In this session you will be given a chance to be an engineer. In this hands-on session, you and your team will be responsible for designing a Cell Towers. Cell Towers are designed by engineers to:

  • Enable communication high in the air to maximize signal reach and
  • Withstand challenging natural forces such as wind and potential earthquakes.

While we won’t be able to “test” your ability to maximize the signal reach of your Cell Tower, we will test your Cell Tower’s ability to withstand the forces of nature. So, once you have built your Cell Tower, with the materials provided, you will subject the Cell Tower you have built to a simulated earthquake.

Engineering Tour

With over 30 hands-on laboratories in our different majors, take a walking tour to visit a few select labs from various disciplines within the SDSU College of Engineering followed by a walking tour to the view the student sessions.