Serving Through STEM (STS) projects allow GLP Scholars to engage in consulting experiences with partner organizations. Scholars collaborate in small groups, with each group tackling a particular issue. At the end of the six days, they present their solutions to the organization that the problem was proposed by. During the STS projects, scholars are given the opportunity to explore new topics and come up with solutions to problems they did not know even existed. STS projects are an interactive and informative way to tackle real life issues.
This year, there were four organizations that presented problem statements to groups of Scholars – the Shedd Aquarium, Ballot Ready, CARE, and the Chicago Housing Authority.
The Shedd Aquarium provides environmentally-friendly living to sea animals and makes use of humane practices. The Shedd is not only a sanctuary for the animals, but it is also a family-oriented site that helps people interact with and understand sea creatures. Scholars partnered with Shedd employees in order to create a toy for sea otters that stimulates their minds and provides them with food.
Xiomara Demarchi reflected on her group’s solution and approach to the issue:
“One of the issues they have is that otters are really curious animals. The toys they are given now aren’t challenging to them. The problem is that it is really messy. We are trying to come up with a way for the toys to challenge otters. Since otters are trained to know about shapes and colors, we were thinking of making it a cube and having a combination, so the food wouldn’t spill everywhere and they would be more challenged.”
All scholars who worked with the Shedd prototyped their solutions and models in order to come up with the best toy. They all had unique and plausible ideas – one of which will be implemented by the Shedd Aquarium. Look for our Scholars’ contribution to the otters’ environment on your next trip to the aquarium!