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From Bunny Copters to Science Fairs

Chapters Promote ASHRAE, STEM to Young People

From eSociety, July 2018

From flying bunny copters to judging science fairs, ASHRAE chapters are volunteering in their communities in different ways.

All the officers in 12 ASHRAE chapters volunteered their time throughout the year to participate in a community event geared to promoting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities for students. Those chapters earned the K-12/STEM Chapter Leadership Award.

The following 12 chapters received the award this year:

  • Austin
  • Central Arizona
  • Golden Gate
  • Hawaii
  • La Crosse
  • Montreal
  • Northern Nevada
  • San Diego
  • San Jose
  • Southern Nevada
  • Southwest Florida
  • Tucson

The ASHRAE Austin Chapter teamed up with other organizations such as the Girl Scouts throughout the year, said Nick Prisco, Associate Member ASHRAE, Student Activities chair and Chapter K-12 STEM chair for the Austin Chapter.

“It’s good to partner with an organizations like Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts. It’s good to specifically for a group that’s focusing on introducing young ladies and girls to STEM,”  he said.

Two activities the Austin Chapter officers participated in were related to the Girl Scouts. Some officers volunteered during Girl Day at the University of Texas, which included helping girls make “bunny copters.”

After the girls made their bunny copters, ASHRAE members would help them fly their creations in a wind tunnel while explaining upward force and how the creation was flying, Prisco said.

The event, the University of Texas at Austin’s Women in Engineering Program’s Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day and the Girl Day STEM Festival, was held in February. The university was expecting more than 8,000 elementary and middle school students to participate.

Members of the ASHRAE Austin Chapter volunteered at the
University of Texas at Austin's Girl Day STEM Festival this year.

Austin Chapter officers also volunteered to share with some Girl Scouts what ASHRAE does and what the officers do professionally. At a meeting in May, officers including sales engineer, a contractor and a design engineer attended a meeting to promote ASHRAE and engineering as a career.

Members of the ASHRAE Austin Chapter share ASHRAE's mission during a Tech Girl Scouts meeting.

“We were able to talk about the things those different people do and what ASHRAE does,” Prisco said.

Prisco and Ryan Burke, Associate Member ASHRAE, who served as the chapter’s treasurer last year, volunteered to judge the Austin Energy Regional Science Festival in February. Prisco spent three days at the competition, and Burke spent two, said Prisco.

Even a few months later, Prisco remembered one science project. Three sixth grade students tested the refracting index of gelatin using laser lights, he said.

“They didn’t win because they didn’t really control their variables very well, but I think it’s a pretty good one,” he said.

The K-12/STEM Chapter Leadership Award began during the 2014-2015 society year. This year marks the most winners with 12 chapters. Ten chapters earned the award last year. Eight chapters won the award in 2016, and three won in 2015.

Of this year’s winners, five of the 12 have won this award before. Repeat winners are the Austin, La Crosse, Montreal, Southwest Florida and Tucson chapters.

It is easy to integrate the volunteer activities into a chapter’s calendar, if the events are planned correctly and in enough time, said Prisco, adding the Austin Chapter is planning to earn the award again next year.