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ComEd Helps Mercy Home’s Kids Dive into STEM

ComEd Helps Mercy Home’s Kids Dive into STEM

Even in the midst of uncertainty, Mercy Home is dedicated to making sure our kids still have countless opportunities to learn and grow. That is why we were so excited to again partner with ComEd to hold STEM workshops for our kids. Some of our young women completed a weeklong workshop, and 15 of our young men completed a two-day workshop.

Last year, ComEd held the first weeklong STEM workshop for a group of our girls, and it was a tremendous success. Because of the pandemic, this year’s workshop was held virtually but that did not detract from the learning opportunities it provided for our young people.

During the week of July 13-17, our girls heard from a different engineer each day. Each engineer shared their backgrounds and life paths that led them to their current career. After the introductions, the girls learned a different skill and participated in activities like learning how to turn on a fan or light bulb and even building a car that runs on both solar and water. During the activities, the engineer participating that day also shared some the science behind what they were working on, so the girls continued to learn terms and concepts along the way.

In addition to learning about engineering concepts, the girls also learned about using features on Google, like how to send professional emails, use the calendar feature, and even how to create spreadsheets. They were able to put their skills into practice by sending professional emails to someone at ComEd.

To wrap up the week, each of our young women created a slideshow presentation in Google and shared what they learned throughout the week.

Though this year’s workshop had some similarities to last year’s workshop, it also covered new ground through the activities.

“The whole concept is really just exposure, showing them something different and showing them these informational interviews of hearing other people’s life stories,” Elizabeth Sorice, the director of the Walsh Campus Education and Career Resources department, said. “I think it was just really insightful.”

The whole concept is really just exposure, showing them something different and showing them these informational interviews of hearing other people’s life stories.

On July 20-21, our boys participated in an abbreviated version of the girls’ program. On Monday, they also participated in the car-making activity, which was a big hit.

“So many of the guys are tactile learners,” Director of Post-Secondary Options Katelyn Dollard said. “So being able to move about the room and use their hands, I think we saw some guys really shine in that way. There’s definitely a few in the group that do want to be engineers and so it was fun to see them in their element.”

Katelyn added that it was nice to see our boys support each other throughout the activity, with those more confident in their skills helping those who were struggling.

“It was cool to see them come together,” she said.

On Tuesday, the boys switched gears and focused on professional skills, specifically around technology. They were joined virtually by a ComEd intern who shared some of his background before having the boys review some examples of unprofessional emails so that they could figure out what was wrong with it. He then shared a professional email so that they could pick out strengths in it.

To put their skills into practice, the boys then each wrote their own professional email, where they introduced themselves and practiced copying someone else on the email.

Director of Education Resources Brittany Terrell noted how important it is that our young men learn life skills like this.

“[It was] perfect timing to go back to school, and it was also perfect for the fact that a lot of e-learning and virtual learning will be happening coming up,” she said. “Kids do need to start getting in the practice of what does it look like to appropriately email your teacher … it’s just building that skill at a very young age is important.”

Elizabeth added that the activities really helped our young women explore areas that they hadn’t previously had much exposure to.

“They were open to the curriculum,” she said. “I think they really enjoyed putting the car together. I saw some of how their brains were thinking more in that mechanical way.”

And of course, our ECR team feels that it’s also important for our kids, particularly young women, to have exposure to many different career paths, including those in STEM.

“The last day was pretty cool because the [guest speaker] … she talked about being a meter reader for five years and how she has climbed her way through [the company], like she talked about the different certifications she had to get, and that really impacted the girls,” Elizabeth said.

“I think they saw themselves in her so to speak, and how she moved up in the company was really inspiring to them. So I think the exposure is really important for our kids to see and to learn from other folks.”

The ECR team was also full of praise over the ease of working with ComEd. The company had begun planning the workshops in early 2020, and quickly adapted to the limitation presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I know one thing I appreciate was that they sent us all the supplies and material and just not having to think about the little things like that was super helpful,” Katelyn said, saying they even included little things like batteries and water bottles.

“It was just thoughtful that they took care of it.”

The ECR team hopes to continue the partnership with ComEd in future years.

“I feel like they’re innovative and it’s not just repeating the same types of activities,” Brittany said.

She added that our young men have been asking to do more hands-on activities, and these types of things fit perfectly into that. Being able to build something themselves, such as the cars they put together this week, builds their confidence.

“It’s a sense of pride that comes with that that I think they also get from doing these types of activities,” she said.

We are grateful to our friends at ComEd for their time and dedication to our kids! Thank you for creating another wonderful workshop series for Mercy Home and helping our children learn and grow.

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