Gov. Lamont and Yale University unveil CT student STEM challenge

Photo of Cayla Bamberger
Governor Ned Lamont speaks at a news conference in Stratford, Conn. July 23, 2021. In a press release issued Monday, Lamont announced in partnership with Yale University a STEM challenge competition for students in grades 3 through 12 across the state.

Governor Ned Lamont speaks at a news conference in Stratford, Conn. July 23, 2021. In a press release issued Monday, Lamont announced in partnership with Yale University a STEM challenge competition for students in grades 3 through 12 across the state.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

A boat made from household items that won’t sink from added weight.

A rubber-band powered car that travels the greatest distance.

These are the design projects slated for the first week of the Governor’s Summer STEM Challenge, a partnership with the Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Connecticut Office of Workforce Strategy.

The online initiative provides students with opportunities for engaged learning, while also equipping them with skills for STEM careers, the governor’s office said.

Connecticut students in grades 3 through 12 will compete each week in challenges drawn up by Yale student organizations.

“Over the course of the pandemic, so many students missed out on classroom experiences that are essential to their development,” Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement. “Our administration is launching the Governor’s Summer STEM Challenge as a way to help them have a stimulating summer and an engaging educational experience in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, while at the same time giving our youth experiences that will improve their career opportunities.”

The first Summer STEM Challenge to build boats and toy cars was announced on Monday. Future projects will be posted online over the next six weeks.

College students from the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association came up with the first two projects.

Their instructions are clear and detailed: No adding salt or minerals to the water to make the boat floats, the student group said. For the toy cars, inclined surfaces and wind power are strictly prohibited — and once they leave the finish line, the vehicles cannot be touched until they’re at rest.

Elementary and secondary students, who may work individually or as a group, have until Sunday at noon to finish their mini boats and cars.

A panel of judges will then choose the winners based on creativity, design, presentation and teamwork.

Winners receive an unnamed prize and, if they participate in all six challenges, become eligible for one grand prize in each category.

“Yale University is honored to partner with the state to provide enriching educational opportunities for elementary, middle and high school students,” Peter Salovey, president of Yale University, said in a statement. “The Governor’s Summer STEM Challenge will help young scholars gain an appreciation for STEM, incorporate critical thinking into their studies and lives, and become the next generation of innovators.”

A press release for the initiative said the Summer STEM Challenge came out of the Governor’s Workforce Council, which included colleges and universities looking to support summer programming.

“The Governor’s Summer STEM Challenge will be shared with school districts, municipalities, and many summer camps across the state,” said Kelli-Marie Vallieres, Connecticut’s chief workforce officer, in a statement. “Our goal is to engage as many students as possible to excite them about STEM and spark their interest to explore STEM curriculum and careers.”