Jude Binkley staff writer
The STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) subjects focus on the advancements in science, exposing these fields to young mind helps prepare them for complicated subjects they will learn in high school. Sophomore Hogan Behrstock enjoys sharing his knowledge with younger students at the ASTEME Learning Center (Advancement of Science, Technology, & Engineering in Math Education).
“It’s basically a math and STEM camp over the summer, and throughout the year they do enrichment and homeschool classes,” Behrstock said. “At ASTEME, it’s not a classroom setting, it’s hands on. The goal is to make learning fun, and more specifically how math and science can be applied to anything.”
Behrstock was exposed to the STEM fields at ASTEME from a young age, when he started attending their camps and classes during elementary school.
“It all started about nine years ago, I was in second grade and got exposed to ASTEME and ever since then I’ve been going,” Behrstock said. “I went from being a student to an intern, and then two summers ago I started interning over the summer which is a big step because there are older students there. And then for about the past year I was an official full-time paid teacher there.”
He now spends his summers doing experiments with middle schoolers to encourage them to become more involved with science and math in hopes that they will chose a career involving the STEM subjects they learn at camp.
“The activities revolve around making these young children aware that in their future, they are going to need to have jobs in the STEM fields. Applying the STEM fields to things they do every day makes them aware of how it can be applied,” Behrstock said. “For every activity there’s a math warm up so I teach them math, and most of the time it’s math that they are learning in school…I teach everything from Virtual Reality video games to liquid nitrogen to hydrogen peroxide experiments to do-it-yourself activities.”
Hogan leads his students in experiments and activities that they are able to do using special materials that ASTEME has.
Liquid nitrogen isn’t a chemical that most people have available to them because if used incorrectly it can be dangerous. But at ASTEME we have a dewar to hold the nitrogen so it doesn’t evaporate,” Behrstock said. “This summer I tried something new, I made liquid nitrogen ice cream where we mixed whipping cream and vanilla extract and sugar to make basically melted ice cream, all natural with no chemicals in it.”
On top of allowing students to do experiments with the elements, ASTEME also has the newest technology for their staff and students to use. One of these involves the new field of virtual reality.
“With VR [virtual reality] we have the newest headset, HTC VIVE, and sometimes my job for a day may be for four hours to be playing VIVE and finding something fun,” Behrstock said.
Behrstock spends a lot of time at the ASTEME Learning Center, whether it’s teaching his students or planning for an upcoming lab. He says it is not hard to do, because he finds the work enjoyable.
I try to be there three times a week, as of now I go from Wednesdays from 4-6 p.m. and Fridays from 4-6 p.m. I usually end up there until 7 o’clock just because there’s always something to do there,” Behrstock said. “I don’t think it’s hard, I don’t think it’s a lot because if you’re doing stuff that you find enjoyable, it shouldn’t be hard or annoying to do. I enjoy teaching at ASTEME, it’s not a chore for me.”