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Middle School STEM Students Visit DuPont’s New Silicon Valley Technology Center with NextFlex

By Mikayla Ridi, Workforce Development Project Manager, NextFlex

When the yellow bus full of students approaches their destination, the excitement builds. Students from Dartmouth Middle School (San Jose, CA) had a great opportunity on Friday, November 9th, 2018, to be one of the first middle schools to visit the newly opened DuPont Silicon Valley Technology Center (SVTC) in Sunnyvale, CA. As the 7th and 8th grade young men and women absorbed the cutting-edge technologies around them they could not contain their excitement as evidenced by the smiles all around.

During the first part of the tour, students visited various labs where they saw flexibility and heat testing machines. In another, students were challenged to build a bridge that would support an eraser without bending using only two pieces of paper and two cans. Through this experience students learned that engineers spend a lot of time experimenting with trial and error, and often need to work with limited materials. In the second part of the tour, students visited the Technology Center where they engaged with interactive displays on advanced technologies like Ralph Laurens’s self-heating Olympic Jacket and a table with integrated charging functionality that automatically charges devices placed on it. The students left DuPont having had their imaginations challenged with the art of the possible.

Following the tour at DuPont, the students visited NextFlex to use what they learned during a FlexFactor Sprint product design exercise. The class worked in teams of four to identify a real-world problem, identify a product concept to solve that problem, research the target market and pitch their ideas in a 3-minute presentation. The teams approached a wide variety of issues ranging from plastic pollution in the ocean to cancer detection with an amazing display of creativity, logic, and enthusiasm.

Eighth grader Sanjith Iype commented, “The whole field trip was a lot of fun. At DuPont we learned about a lot of new inventions that we haven’t ever seen before—the lightweight drone was really cool! Then we came back to NextFlex where we were able to brainstorm ideas as a group and get a feeling of what it would be like to work in a company like that. The whole experience was very fun and eye opening!”

NextFlex is proud to help students learn about the exciting and creative opportunities in the advanced manufacturing field, and to engage students with the experiences that will lead them to becoming the innovators and leaders of tomorrow.