WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY IN ST. LOUIS
We aim to provide underrepresented and low-income students access to STEAM initiatives by bringing design-based science projects to middle schools.
Studio: TESLA mobilizes college students to establish dynamic after-school activities for underserved youth to build STEAM literacies and critical-thinking capacity through hands-on design challenges during French holidays.
Studio: TESLA Founder Nicholas Okafor began teaching engineering to local St. Louis youth in 2012 as a simple volunteer activity, but decided to expand the effort into an organization to widen the impact made in the community August 2014. Our model embraces scalability, enlisting college students to sponsor the clubs. We operate as a student group at Washington University and plan to expand through branches at St. Louis area colleges and universities that seek to bolster their STEM outreach programs. We also invite students to the Wash U campus twice per year for a larger STEM event.
Outside donors have invested into Studio: TESLA for its continued success. These funds have been used to support weekly after school programs and bi-annual D3 Day events.
Studio: TESLA facilitates three after-school clubs at three different sites, reaching over sixty middle school students.
Over fifty Washington University students have been involved in the Operations Committee to work with underserved middle school students.
Interested in working with Studio: TESLA at your school or community center? Are you a college student looking to join our volunteers? If you would like to get involved with Studio: TESLA in any way, ! If you wold like to get a help with you coursework, just say do my coursework please.
The applications for new volunteers open at the beginning of each semester, so send us an email and we will be sure to let you know about the next opportunity to get involved! Meanwhile, check out the various ways to join the Studio: TESLA team:
Members of the Enrichment Committee are paired with teams of Operations members who travel to the sites each week. Enrichment team members work closely with the Facilitators and Site Directors to devise the projects that the scholars will work through in the weekly after-school sessions. These projects place emphasis on creative design solutions developed through hands-on learning. Enrichment has developed many great projects to engage the scholars. Scholars have explored acceleration by crafting egg-saving devices, observed aerodynamics through bottle-rocket design, and learned electromagnetic principles through building paper-cup headphones, to name a few.
There is one Site Director assigned to each school. Site Directors are essential to our organization because of their leadership role among the volunteers and their dedication to keeping operations running smoothly. They oversee a small group of volunteers (Site Facilitators) in guiding young scholars through STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) problem solving. Each week, they present a STEAM-related challenge and work in conjunction with the Site Facilitators to mentor and help scholars hone their problem-solving skills.
Site Facilitators make up the core of Studio: TESLA operations. They are our ground troops who mentor young scholars through STEAM projects. A team of 3 to 5 Facilitators visit each site once a week, working closely with the Enrichment Team to implement valuable design-thinking projects and stimulate the creative problem solving process for every scholar.
Goals of Communications Committee:
Communications is excited to continue sharing the growth and impact of Studio: TESLA within the St. Louis community and beyond!
“I got involved with Studio: TESLA because I believe all students, regardless of their school, should have access to engaging and empowering STEAM experiences, and TESLA helps provide these. I want the world’s future scientists and engineers to come from all corners of this city and believe in their ability to solve problems and think critically from an early age. I consider it a privilege to work with and encourage our students alongside the rest of Studio: TESLA.”
VP of Communications
“Growing up, science projects were always something I looked forward to at school. They provided opportunities to problem-solve in creative ways and bring theoretical concepts to life. I want to help other students realize their full potential, and Studio: TESLA does just that. We bring design challenges that encourage students to think of innovative solutions and I am excited to see how these activities will inspire young scholars!”
VP of Operations
“I joined Studio: TESLA because I love being creative with engineering, and I love how unlimited young imaginations are. Being part of a team that fosters a space for others to discover how fun STEAM can be and seeing how the students grow throughout the semester has been humbling and meaningful. Studio: TESLA has been a phenomenal way to get to know the St. Louis area, and I can’t wait to get my hands messy and do more!”
VP of Resources
“When I heard about Studio:TESLA’s mission to expose engineering to kids who might otherwise never get the opportunity it really resonated with me. I have been helping TESLA in any way I can since I got here.”
VP of Enrichment
“I originally joined Studio TESLA because I had a great time as a kid with the same kinds of hands-on challenges that TESLA is all about. The first step to STEM education is STEM engagement, but that’s a step that’s sometimes forgotten. Studio TESLA excels in this area, and I love this opportunity to make science cool and engineering fun. I find the Enrichment team especially fulfilling because of how open-ended it is: we take interesting problems and make them accessible and exciting to a bunch of rowdy middle-schoolers. It’s a challenge, but a very rewarding one.”
Students were given a set budget to choose from materials to build a miniature rescue litter for a potato. It was attached to a zipline and judged on how well it could carry the potato down from a high table, as well as its portability. This helped students consider how seemingly simple real-life objects like rescue litters have many design specifications and factors to consider.
Students were given 45 minutes to build a tower out of a cup, popsicle sticks, straws, and masking tape that could survive an earthquake. The disaster was simulated by rolling a wooden board full of marbles over another board. Students tried to build the tallest tower possible while making sure the tower could survive the earthquake for a long time, holding up and protecting a pipe cleaner person at the top.
Partnering with Washington University’s Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, we participated in an InvestiGirls workshop at Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls. For this studio, the girls built and launched their own two liter bottle rockets using compressed air. InvestiGirls gives the students of Hawthorn opportunities to learn about different skills and fields, and Studio: TESLA represented STEM activities. We assisted Hawthorn’s mission to introduce new female leaders to STEM fields and can’t wait to see what they accomplish!
Students were challenged to build an aqueduct to carry water from a stream (the classroom sink) to a town in Ancient Rome. They had to invent ways to hold up the waterways spanning the classroom and prevent potential leaks. With just cups, trash bags, poster boards, duct tape, and some PVC pipes, students were able to construct aqueducts and compete to see whose could carry water the fastest.
On October 9 and 11, the students at Brittany Woods Middle School and Holman Middle School were faced with the task of building a suspension bridge using only straw, string and some tape. After some time planning and crafting the design, the final contraption was put to test. A bucket was attached to the bridge spanning the gap between two tables and sand was gradually added to the bucket. Let’s see if the students succeeded in building a strong bridge!
Grace accepted the challenge of building a suspension bridge to span a gap that was two straw lengths wide. Her design was so sturdy that it stayed up under the load of a full cup of sand despite its great length!
This is Julia our volunteer collaborating with a student to build a bridge. Ms. Huttie popped popcorn for the whole group as well!
Two Holman Middle School students observe how much sand their bridge will hold.
Brittany Woods Middle School students adding final touches to their bridge!
This is Korion and Tamera collaborating at Brittany Woods to build a suspension bridge using only straw, string and some tape. They were successful in holding up an entire up of sand with only two straws spanning the gap between tables.
October 2nd saw a group of eggs (with faces and names) in danger. Students at Holman Middle School were challenged to save them by building a device to help their egg survive a high fall. With only a simple bag of materials and around 30 minutes of preparation, each group made a contraption to test from the top of a two-story indoor balcony. This project is a fun way for students to learn about practical applications of physics knowledge through devices like parachutes and protective packaging.
1 Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130