Corliss High School Kicks Off STEM Challenge

 |   Shelley Stern Grach

Corliss students work together to build a marshmallow tower

For the past three years, Microsoft has partnered with the Illinois Science and Technology Institute (@ISTCoalition) and Lake View High School (@SCS_LakeviewHS) for the STEM Challenge. This is a great collaborative program which ties together curriculum, technology and mentoring from Microsoft employees to complement the teachers’ instruction on how to solve real world problems using technology. This year, we are thrilled to add Corliss High School as a Chicago Early College STEM School partner. We recently launched the STEM Challenge Kickoff event at Corliss on November 9th.

The focus this year is for the students to look at how the Internet of Things (IoT) can result in solutions for community issues in the Corliss neighborhood. The kick off day began with Dr. Leonard Harris, the Corliss principal, welcoming the group and outlining the agenda for the day, which saw many opportunities for mentor-student collaboration. From an ice breaker activity to a team building marshmallow tower workshop, the mentors from Microsoft worked hands-on with their student teams to start building the relationship that they will maintain through the end of April 2017. Further engagement occurred over a networking lunch where the Corliss students came prepared with questions about the mentors’ career paths, expertise and roles within Microsoft. The kick off came to a close with the Corliss STEM Challenge student groups presenting to Microsoft on their IoT research to date, and a group photo showcases the progress already made on this year’s partnership.

tower-building-10
Students and mentors brainstorm together

Students will continue to work with their Microsoft mentors while researching their solutions with a school-wide share out planned toward the end of the project. This year’s collaboration will wrap up on April 27th at the Illinois Science and Technology Institute (ISTI) STEM Challenge Showcase, featuring presentations from 26 schools working with 12 companies.

We would like to thank the terrific faculty and staff at Corliss High School and our long-time partners Emily Cooper and Allie Barwise from the ISTI. It will be great fun to have two schools learning about IoT this year…. maybe some friendly competition? Who knows?

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Shelley Stern Grach
Shelley Stern Grach

They say that great work stems from a combination of passion and commitment, something that Shelley certainly possesses when it comes to her life and career. She currently serves on the boards of the Women’s Business Development Center, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Thrive Chicago, Year Up and LISC Chicago. At Microsoft Chicago, she’s the Director of Civic Engagement, working at the intersection of computing and community, promoting STEM programs and using Microsoft technology to spur growth in the community. So no matter if it's work, play, or giving back, Shelley always makes sure her drive and professionalism help her complete her life's goals.