March 2, 2020

Powering STEM Education

While we’re celebrating our 75th anniversary, we’re also celebrating the strong commitment FSB has always had to our community and STEM education. That active involvement is the mark of a truly successful business, and our firm’s culture supports that continued pledge to invest in our community both as individuals and as a firm.

FSB recognized that changing systemic problems isn’t accomplished with a single volunteer event or donation. We need to be a catalyst, one that utilizes our employees and business partners, as well as involve non-profits.

The FSB STEMpowered Initiative is born.

John Semtner presenting donation check to Adelaide Lee Elementary School Principal and Mary Melon

FSB already encourages its employees to give back to the community through their time, talents and treasures. But the FSB STEMpowered Initiative is specifically aimed at empowering students through STEM education. To accomplish this, FSB focused our volunteer efforts and donations to help improve STEM education in the Oklahoma City Public Schools. FSB teamed with the Cal Ripken Foundation and The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools to help each of the OKCPS elementary schools receive a new, fully equipped STEM makerspace to teach and inspire a new generation of innovators. We invested $30,000 so the students at Adelaide Lee Elementary School could experience their new STEM makerspace filled with interactive, hands-on tools. This equipment — 3D printers, Snap Circuits, Ozobots, BEE Bots, Lego kits and more — are supplies that these students normally wouldn’t have access to, let alone the opportunity to work and play with.

FSB employees volunteering at Adelaide Lee Elementary School in Oklahoma City

To continue building on our monetary donation, more than 30 FSB team members volunteered with Adelaide Lee Principal Carson Cramer and STEM instructor Taylor Neal to set up all the new equipment in the STEM makerspace. Following this, we volunteered at Adams Elementary School to help set-up their new STEM space. We’re so excited to be able to help make an impact on these young kids, at a time when they’re the most open to exploring science, technology, engineering and math.

The level of excitement from employees after these volunteer efforts was phenomenal. Since the donation of the STEM Center, FSB’s architects and engineers have begun volunteering through the Girls STEM Club at Adelaide Lee. They’ve mentored and developed lessons for the 3rd and 4th grade girls while also passing along life skills like teamwork and perseverance. The students get STEM-related classroom instruction and hands-on activities from our staff. Connecting professional architects, designers and engineers to these young students have created an amazing opportunity where the kids are exposed to different career options, which makes that career a real possibility for them.

Our goal is to make science, technology, engineering & math exciting for students.

FSB employees volunteering with the Girls STEM Club at Adelaide Lee Elementary School

The STEM Club kickstart curriculum includes:

  • Class 1: Girls are engaged through a simple building design, such as a pet rescue or candy store. Students are led through the programming phase of the project, defining project requirements and get hands-on experience using a scale, drawing on graph paper, etc. To assist students with this program, FSB donated drafting boards, a variety of drafting tools and engineering and architecture books.
  • Class 2: Students are divided into three teams and each team prepares a floor plan and interacts with engineers from each discipline to learn about what HVAC, electrical, plumbing, fire protection and structural needs are necessary for their projects.
  • Class 3: Working with FSB designers, students view their designs in a 3D format where they can choose materials, colors, etc. to finish their design.
  • Class 4: Architects mentor kids to develop a presentation of their designs to present to classmates.

The new STEM Club is a big hit — it provides interactive afterschool lessons without the pressure of grades — and school officials have taken note.

In fact, Taylor Neal, STEM instructor at Adelaide Lee Elementary, said that “the FSB STEMpowered Initiative aims to increase the number of minorities, at-risk youth and girls pursuing careers in STEM-related fields, and I have no doubt they have helped inspire future STEM leaders for our community along the way.”

FSB’s culture of stewardship & volunteerism

FSB employee, Isabella Horton, teaching students about civil engineering

The FSB STEMpowered Initiative reflects our long-standing commitment to community involvement and STEM education. But our culture of stewardship and volunteerism go beyond our office and into the lives of our employees. Our employees have volunteered an impressive 8,219 hours this past year with various community organizations and events, which averages out to be 51.3 hours per employee. In addition to our volunteer efforts at Adelaide Lee and Adams Elementary, we have a number of volunteer programs geared toward STEM. These programs include mentorship and volunteerism with Metro Technology Centers’ GirlTech Mentorship Program, Girl Scouts, K-12 Invention Convention, ASHRAE, Capitol Hill High School Academy of Engineering Advisory Board, Boys and Girls Clubs as well as numerous STEM career days.

That’s why our President, Philip McNayr, says “Science, technology, engineering and math have all helped innovative minds to create, imagine and excel, and Oklahoma has recently recognized that a STEM-capable workforce is key to our future. FSB has long seen this need in our own business and wanted to help develop resources within our own community.” We want to open minds today and then doors tomorrow.

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