At the Jordan Morgan Foundation LAUNCH! STEM site at Henry Ford Health System Lab, kids are constructing vehicles out of plastic building sets. They are competing in races with one another to see which masterpiece can go the fastest without falling apart.

Winners are getting up and dancing while Reggie Williams, the teacher at this site, urges students to go back to the table to improve their designs once they fall apart or fall short.

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Mr. Reggie Williams, teacher at the HFHS Lab site.

“For some of the kids, this is the most exposure to certain things within science, technology, engineering, and math,” said Mr. Williams, as the students call him. “A lot of them are beginning to understand the engineering process and some of them are talking about going into that in the future.”

Jordan Morgan, an engineering major at the University of Michigan, is enjoying the construction process as much as the kids. He stops by each table to see what the students are doing and then participates in building his own vehicle.

“I’ve always loved science, which is why I went into engineering,” he said. “For me to be able to give that to other kids and get them just as excited as I was is something that I really enjoy.”

Henry Ford Health System Lab is one of three LAUNCH! STEM sites. The original plan was to have one — at Michigan Engineering Zone in Detroit — but demand for the program was high after DAPCEP filled the initial roster. The other program site is Old Redford Academy.

“It’s gratifying to see how excited the students get to do this stuff,” said Jordan. “A lot of this they wouldn’t necessarily be interested in, but you give them opportunities to explore and learn about different subjects.

“The goal is that they find something they might be interested in that they might otherwise not have known about.”

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The program is taking a personalized learning approach, providing hands-on exposure to one STEM subject per week before taking them on a field trip for real world examples.

Teachers like Mr. Williams are facilitating that process and guiding the students along the way.

“We’ve had some great teachers really get in and inspire,” said Jordan. “Mr. Williams is one of our best. They’re really focused on the experience of the students and that’s what we try to emphasize to them is that it’s about their experience more than anything.”

The Jordan Morgan Foundation is making a push to raise funds to cover the two added LAUNCH! STEM sites. Supporters can donate via Mobile Cause.

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