2 teen girls win national award to promote STEM in low-income and rural Utah

The Incredible Machine table featured in the showcase (Photo: Melanie Louviere, Entheos Academy)

(KUTV) - Two high school seniors from Kearns, Utah have won the 2018 Youth Leadership for Service-Learning Excellence Award by the National Youth Leadership Council for their efforts in launching a new STEM curriculum.

Hala Louviere and Cassandra Ivie, both seniors from Entheos Academy in Kearns, were awarded Monday at an event in St. Paul, Minn. for creating a portable engineering club kit called the "Incredible Machine."

The Incredible Machine can be rented at minimal cost by groups throughout Utah to help educate students and teachers on engineering, which is part of STEM education.

The goal is to take the machine to rural and low-income areas where opportunities and access to STEM education are limited.

The award, co-sponsored by UPS, includes a $1,000 grant to help the girls increase the reach of STEM education in Utah.

"For their innovation and persistence in launching not only a new STEM curriculum but also a training for teachers and teens with limited engineering experience, the Youth Leadership for Service-Learning Excellence Award goes to a group of students led by Cassandra Ivie and Hala Louvier from Entheos Academy in Kearns, Utah," The National Youth Leadership Council stated on their website. "Their curriculum features chemical, mechanical, civil, electrical and software engineering approaches and culminates in a project that uses these approaches to build an 'incredible' Rube Goldberg-like machine."

Ivie and Louviere showed off their Incredible Machine in a workshop and also answered questions from an MC and audience members as part of an awards panel before being awarded.

"Being on the awards panel was an awesome experience," Louviere said. "I had the opportunity to address issues that are important to me and how I can solve them. I hope that the Incredible Machine eventually reaches rural and low-income youth across all of America to help give them equal access to STEM.”

Demand for people educated in STEM is rising rapidly, but there are roadblocks to STEM education in low-income and rural areas.

"Rural areas have limited opportunities and resources due to location," Service Learning Director at Entheos Academy Melanie Louviere said in an email. "High-poverty schools, serving 25% of U.S. school children (CTEq), don’t offer a full range of STEM courses and lack educational equipment, space, and opportunities."

"Youth have decided that math and science are boring because they have no experience to counter that negative idea," Ivie said. "It is critical for STEM education tools to be available to all students so they can see themselves as competent in these fields, even small levels of success increase interest because it allows them to let go of their fear of inadequacy, and embrace the challenge.”

The two teen girls are part of an underrepresented group themselves: women. According to the National Science Foundation, just 19.3% of engineering bachelor degrees are earned by women.

The girls are now using the Incredible Machine in after-school STEM clubs, booths at community fairs as well as teaching free summer camps for 4-H clubs.

The two have recruited a team of youth to train leaders in using the kit with the goal of expanding STEM opportunities throughout the state.

If you want to rent the Incredible Machine or learn more about STEM opportunities:

Email: writetheivies@gmail.com

Call: Entheos Academy (801) 417-5444

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Follow Adam Forgie on Twitter and Facebook.

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