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Bridge building exercise sparks STEM camps for kids

Posted November 11, 2012

Moni Singh was building play bridges with her kids one day, testing which kinds of designs would support the most pencils, when she saw their excitement about the activity.

That's when Singh, an engineer by training, realized that she might be on to something.

"That spark in their eye told me that we could make it broader," she said.

So Singh launched STEM for Kids a year ago. She provides year-round camps, afterschool programs and workshops that focus on science, technology, engineering and math.

Singh has been on what she calls a life-long "pursuit of smartness." As an engineer and technologist who holds a master's of business administration from Duke, she has worked to bring several technologies to the market for wireless phones, smart meters and other products. Moni Singh of STEM for Kids STEM for Kids offers year-round camps, afterschool programs and more

But after years in the corporate world, she said she's thrilled to see the excitement and curiosity in the kids who are part of her programs.

"This is very fulfilling because it feels like I'm making an impact ... on the next generation of people's minds," she said.

That session building bridges with her kids, now 8 and 7, was just one of the reasons she started the program.

There were their endless questions and interest about how things worked - from why do rainbows form to how do planes fly. And there was a newspaper article in the Wall Street Journal about college students dropping their science majors because the classes were just too hard.

Singh figured that if young kids, who were curious about the world, had a chance to learn about science early on, it might not seem so daunting once they are in college.

"There's a lot we can do to inspire children when they are really young," she said, calling them "fertile seeds."

STEM for Kids focuses on elementary school kids. The programs are fun and educational. Camps focus on engineering topics, including civil, mechanical, environmental and aerospace engineering. Singh is adding more programs in the coming months, including computers and critical thinking, robotics and electrical engineering.

The response has been great, she tells me. In the first seven months, STEM for Kids has served more than 647 children. And Singh has big plans for growth.

Singh said her hope isn't that all of the kids who go through her program become scientists and engineers. Instead, she hopes that the programs allow kids to explore the fields of science, technology, engineering and math so they can make educated decisions as they consider their futures.

"It exercises the brain muscle," she tells me.

For more about the program, watch my video interview with Singh and go to the STEM for Kids website. She is offering a special deal now for PTAs.

Her programs are offered in north Raleigh, though she has plans to expand soon so stay tuned to her website for details.

Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.

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  • VerityBanks Nov 14, 9:54 p.m.

    My son recently attended Ms. Singh's Aerospace Engineering camp and was very excited about it! He loved the activities and actually volunteered information about what he did during the day without me having to squeeze it out of him like usual. By the end of the week my house was littered with multiple models of paper airplanes and I got an explanation of the best aspects of each design. He loved building his rocket and learning about fuels for propulsion... and Thursday evening's home experiment was baking soda and vinegar in the kitchen sink. He's asked to be able to attend the other camps they offer and looks forward to future weeks of more STEM fun at the next track out. I'm thankful Ms. Singh has started this excellent endeavor and truly appreciate being able to send my son to a camp of this caliber. 5 stars out of 5!