TEDxSMUWomen 2017

Last Thursday, November 2nd, was TEDxSMUWomen 2017.


We had 2 live speaker sessions, workshops, and live streamings of TEDWomen in New Orleans.

Speaker Graphic

This year’s theme was bridges, so each speaker’s talk, the workshops, and activities all revolved around building, burning, or crossing bridges.

The day started off with the TEDWomen Simulcast from New Orleans and workshops. Attendees had the option of viewing the live simulcast or attending 1 of 3 workshops.

After this, we started the TEDxSMUWomen Live Speaker Sessions. Both sessions were hosted by Shelly Slater, and session 1 consisted of Tara Frank, Ruan Meintjes, Sharyn Wilding, Frances Cudjoe-Waters, and Stephanie Bernal.

sessino 1.jpg

After the first live session, we had lunch with an activity. Attendees were tasked to build a bridge that was at least 12 inches long with the materials provided. Some tables had gummy bears and toothpicks, and some tables had popsicle sticks and duct tape.


After lunch and the activity, we had our 2nd live speaker session of TEDxSMUWomen. Session 2 consisted of Becca Weigman, Liz Navarro, Catelyn Devlin, Mercedes Fulbright, and Leslie O’Hare.


After Session 2, attendees had the option of watching another Live Simulcast or taking part in a conversation with the speakers.

Convo w speakers

At the end, TEDxSMU Excutive Director, Heather Hankamer, hosted a TEDx info session. Attendees were able to ask questions, give suggestions, and pitch ideas for their own TEDx talks!


TEDxSMUWomen 2017 was a huge success thanks to our amazing team, speakers, host, sponsors, volunteers, and attendees. Everyone enjoyed the event and got to spread their ideas. We can’t wait for TEDxSMUWomen 2018, but for now, we’re focusing on TEDxSMUKids 2017!



What’s Happening this Summer?!

Every summer is super cool at the Caruth Institute, and this summer might be the coolest one yet! We are hosting a variety of summer programs for middle schoolers, high schoolers, and even teachers!

Below are a few more details about what’s going on this summer!

Middle School Summer Programs:

There will be multiple summer programs for middle school students happening this summer! We are looking forward to each and every one of them!

  • Mindstorms Robotics
    • The Mindstorms Robotics Program is a camp for rising middle school students in grades 6th, 7th, and 8th. This camp is an introduction to robotics using the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 System. Students will work in pairs to learn the basics of building a EV3 Robot and programming using the EV3 software. Pairs will work on different tasks and challenges for a showcase at the end of the session. The participants will learn how to calculate speed and distance using the circumference of the wheels and the physics of work, power, and energy!
  • Introduction to Programming
    • Programming is a skill that is vital to success, and it is also very cool. During this camp, students will learn the basics of programming a simple device. Participants will learn simple linear programs to more complex function programming with loops and conditional statements. Students will make a number of electronic devices and program them. They will program a Raspberry Pi with different sensors that they will be able to take home and experiment with further.
  • Crime Scene Investigation (6th and 7th grade students)
    • Students will have the opportunity to explore the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics behind identification and crime solving. This camp will consist of a crime scene, hands-on activities to help solve the crime, and presentations by professionals within this field. The participants will learn about fingerprints, cyber security, paper chromatography, DNA, and much more!
  • Rocketry
    • Rocketry Program participants will learn how to design, build, and fly a model rocket they build from scratch. They will build a variety of rockets including a match rocket, a water bottle rocket, and a solid fuel model rocket! Participants will learn about the physics of flight, propulsion, and space science. Students will also learn about the geometry of flight, and learn how to calculate the altitude their rockets reach. The camp will conclude with a rocket launch!
  • Quad-Copter
    • This camp is an introduction to Quad-Copters, how they work, and how they can be used. Participants will learn how to safely fly quad-copters, and maneuver them through a series of mazes. They will also be able to take home the quad copter that they use during the camp. Campers will learn about the physics of flight, and the technology behind these small but powerful tools.
  • Competitive FIRST Lego League
    • This week-long camp is an introduction to robotics using the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 System (for more information on the competition please see the FIRST website. This program is prepares students to successfully compete in the FIRST LEGO League Competition in the Fall 2017 season. Participants will build and program a robot to do tasks on the new field, develop a sense of what it’s like being on a FLL team, and provide a head start for the upcoming season.

High School Programs:

There’s a lot going on for high school students this summer, and we can’t wait to start our programs!

  • Residential Programs for 11th and 12th grade
    • This camp allows participants to explore the four main disciplines of engineering offered at the Lyle School of Engineering: electrical, mechanical, civil and environmental engineering, as well as computer science. Camp is five days and four nights in residence halls on SMU’s main campus. The first two days are spent “skill building.” Skill building allows students to learn basic theories and fundamentals of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and computer programming. After all students have completed the rotation, they are split into three to four groups to work on a design challenge, where they design and build a prototype that seeks to solve a real-world problem using their newly acquired knowledge! On the final day, students present their projects to an audience of parents, friends, and Lyle faculty and staff.



  • Advanced Robotics (FIRST Tech Challenge)
    • During this week-long camp, participants will work in pairs and learn how to build a competitive robot, a more complex ,and robust robot than LEGO robots. They will also learn to program their robot, both autonomously and with remote controls, and use their knowledge to complete different tasks and challenges with the robots. This camp will provide the basics of robot building and programming for students planning to compete in UIL sanctioned robotics competitions. Students will learn the basic physics concepts of work, energy, power, force and velocity.
  • Quad-Copter
    • This two-week camp is an introduction to Quad-Copters, how they work, how they can be used, and how to enhance their designs. Participants will learn how to safely fly quad-copters, as well as work in groups to compete in engineering challenges. They will fly simple quads, medium size quads and large quads that can lift as much as a kilogram payload. They will design components for their quad copter using CAD software and 3D Printers. Students will also learn the physics of flight and how sensors allow for controlled flight even outdoors.
  • Space Launch
    • Participants will design, build, and fly a model rocket they built from scratch. Students will learn about the physics of rocket flight with the aid of the Kerbal Space Program, a rocket launch simulation software program. They will then send a weather balloon up to 60,000 feet and monitor the temperature and pressure of the atmosphere as the balloon rises. Then using GPS sensor and Google Earth they will hopefully find and retrieve the capsule. During the camp they will use a 3D printer, design using CAD, learn to use a GoPro Camera and program sensors!


Teacher Professional Development:

There are 3 professional development opportunities for teachers this summer, and one of them is BRAND NEW! We are super excited to work with the teachers this summer!

  • Classroom Robotics for Teachers grades 4-8
    • This training provides an introduction to using the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 System in a classroom setting or on a FIRST LEGO League team. Participants will learn the basics of EV3 programming and building!
  • UIL Robotics Training FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) and FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)
    • Robotics is now an UIL activity! And that is very exciting! During this one week training, participants will learn about the fundamentals of coaching a robotics team in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) and FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). Teachers and coaches will learn how to organize their teams, understand project management for the season, implement the most effective ways to build and program a robot.
  • STEM for Middle and High School Teachers
    • During this BRAND NEW training for middle school and high school teachers, participants will be exposed to a STEM and PBL (Project Based Learning) based pedagogical framework that includes multiple hands-on examples and curriculum materials for integrated projects that can be translated into practical ideas for their own classroom. Teachers will learn what it takes to become experts on Quad Copters, Rockets, Weather Balloons, Solar Cars, Electric Cars, Robots and more!  Teachers will also be introduced to some essential tools they will need for all of these STEM projects. They will learn about Raspberry Pi microcontrollers, 3D Printers, CAD, electronic sensors, soldering, and other power tools. They will also be given the opportunity to use the tools to develop their own STEM project for their classroom!

We are SO excited for all the cool programs happening this summer! We cannot wait until these programs start and we get to work with our fabulous students and teachers!

Spring into STEM this Easter!

Easter is this week, and we are super excited! There are some awesome STEM activities you can do this week to get ready for Easter and spring in general!

Below are some of our favorite activities!

Erupting Eggs

Create an eruption inside a plastic Easter egg! Start by adding baking soda and fun glitter or food coloring, and then add vinegar. Kids will learn all about chemical reactions by creating their own with this simple activity! This has to do with the mixing of an acid and a base. When they mix, a gas, carbon dioxide, is produced.

This simple activity is easy and very exciting for kids! To add to the experiment, you can even try the same experiment with lemon juice or other citrus fruit juices in place of vinegar and note the differences!

Crystal Eggs

You can grow crystal eggshells for this experiment and learn all about chemistry! With eggshells, borax powder, and water, you can grow crystals overnight. Mix hot water and the borax powder, and food coloring if you choose, and pour the solution into a jar and place the eggshell inside. Leave the eggshell to cool overnight, and the next day crystals will have formed. This is because as the solution cools, the powder particles fall out of the solution and form crystals on the eggshell!

How Strong is an Eggshell? 

Contrary to popular belief, eggshells are pretty strong. How strong? Well, there’s a simple activity that can help you find out! Place a bottle cap on the top and on the bottom of an egg. After that, place the bottle capped egg down and place objects on top of the top bottle cap to test how strong the egg actually is! Start out with just one egg, and continue to add more and more! This is because of the unique shape of the egg! The force on top of the egg gets distributed and allows for the egg to carry a high load.

Eggshell strength experiment Easter STEM

These are some of our favorite spring/Easter STEM activities! Learn about chemistry or physics with your students! We hope everyone has a happy and safe STEM-filled spring and Easter!

Image result for STEM spring

Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month

Are you aware that April is Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month? Well, it is, and it’s awesome!

Math and stats are everywhere around us, even if we can’t always see them. Anything that involves technology, time, or even tacos involves math and stats! Use this month to become more aware of the math around you.

 Artist Template_Scaled

Take a moment to appreciate the math around you and work on a cool activity. For resources and cool math/stats activities from the American Mathematical Society, click here!


There are fun math events going on all over the nation! Try to make it out to one of those events, or at least do a cool math activity!

National Engineers Week Kickoff – Visioneering 2017

On February 18th, the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education within the SMU Lyle School of Engineering hosted Visioneering 2017 to kick off National Engineers Week!

Visioneering is a half day event in which teams of middle school students from all over Texas come together and do a 90 minute engineering project. This sounds simple, but there is so much more cool stuff that happens throughout the day!

Over 60 teams came to SMU for Visioneering from all over Texas!


Students first arrived and checked in. After checking in, the students filled the auditorium for the opening ceremony where they learned a little bit about engineering and learned about their design challenge for the day! For the design challenge, students were tasked to design and create a prototype for a home or building for an elderly or disabled person.

Lyle Engineering VisioneeringLyle Engineering Visioneering

After the opening ceremony, teams were taken to different classrooms to complete the design challenge! In each classroom, students met with their mentors. These mentors were professional engineers! Along with their mentors, the students found supplies for the challenge. They used the first few minutes of their challenge time to brainstorm and come up with ideas to plan their final design.

The students were very creative in their designs, and their ideas were fantastic!

After the 90 minute challenge period, students had their final creations ready, and they presented their masterpieces to 2 judges.

After all the teams were judged, students went back to the auditorium for an engineering expo, awards, and the closing ceremony!

Five teams were awarded various awards, but everyone won in that they left with the satisfaction of solving a complex challenge!

Students learned how to think in new ways, work as part of a team, and to speak up and share their ideas. This made Visioneering 2017 a success!

Visioneering 2017 was a lot of fun! Students, mentors, teachers, and volunteers had a ton of fun! We can’t wait until Visioneering 2018!

SMU Lyle Engineering Summer Programs – Dallas Campus

Registration for summer programs for high school students, middle school students, and teachers is now open!

For high school students, we have:

  • Residential Engineering Program for 11th and 12th Grade Students
  • Advanced Robotics (FIRST Tech Challenge) Program for High School Students
  • Quad-Copter Program for High School Students
  • Space Launch Program for High School Students

For middle school students, we have:

  • Mindstorms Robotics Program for Middle School Students
  • Introduction to Programming for Middle School Students
  • Crime Scene Investigation for 6th and 7th Grade Students
  • Rocketry Program for Middle School Students
  • Quad-Copter Program for Middle School Students
  • Competitive Robotics FIRST Lego League Program for Middle School Student

For teachers, we have:

  • Classroom Robotics for Teachers Grades 4th-8th
  • UIL Robotics Training FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) and FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)
  • STEM for Middle and High School Teachers

All of these programs are awesome! If you want to register or you want more information, click here!

Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair – STEM Party 2017

This past weekend was the Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair 2017 at Dallas Fair Park and the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education got involved!

While judging was going on, the Caruth Institute hosted a STEM party for parents and students!


The STEM party started off with a guest speaker talking to parents about the college search and college admissions processes. Parents loved all the great information!


After that, the students participated in a CSI Fingerprint Activity. The students stamped their fingerprints onto a balloon and were given a card to compare their fingerprints to. Through this, they were able to see what kind of fingerprint they had! Everyone had a ton of fun with this activity!


After the CSI Fingerprint Activity, the students participated in the Marshmallow Challenge. The students were tasked with building the tallest structure out of marshmallows and spaghetti noodles. Students were in teams and got to race to build the tallest structure, and it was very intense and very cool! The students were very creative and the structures they came up with were awesome!

There was even a visit from the TECH Truck from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science! Students got to learn to tinker, engineer, create, and hack!

While we were there, we got to see some very cool projects! One of those projects was done by a familiar face – one of our students from summer camp from this past summer was there presenting her project!


The Caruth Institute loved getting involved in the Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair this year and can’t wait to run the show next year! For a list of winners of the fair and more information about the fair itself, click here!


Prepare for Black History Month

February is Black History Month. African American scientists and engineers have had a huge impact on the STEM world for a long time! Here are a few of the African American scientists, engineers, and mathematicians who have made the STEM world a cooler place!

George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver was a scientist and inventor. He invented over 100 products from the peanut, sweet potatoes, and soybeans! Every invention he created was to help make the world a better place, and that is exactly what he did!

George Washington Carver Photo

Euphemia Lofton Haynes

Euphemia Lofton Haynes was a mathematician. She was the first African American woman to receive a PhD in mathematics. Afterwards, she turned towards the world of education to change the face of education. She did so by fighting against segregation in schools and advocating for poor students and better schools. She took the STEM and education world by storm!

George Edward Alcorn Jr. 

George Edward Alcorn Jr. is a physicist and inventor. He earned a PhD in atomic and molecular physics. He has invented and patented many creations, including the Imaging X-ray Spectrometer. For this invention, he received the NASA Inventor of the Year Award.

Campbell C. Johnson

Campbell C. Johnson was a Quality Engineer. He started college as a Civil Engineering major at Howard University and realized his passion for Chemical Engineering. This caused him to transfer to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, but because he was a transfer student and the only African American in his class, he was at a disadvantage which caused him to push himself to the best of his ability. He graduated with his degree in Chemical Engineering in 1942.

Campbell C. Johnson

Daniel Hale Williams 

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams was performed the first successful open heart surgery at Provident Hospital in Chicago. This hospital was also founded by Dr. Williams, and was one of the only hospitals to welcome African American patients. Dr. Williams changed the medical world for years to come!

That’s only a few of the many African American scientists and engineers to change the world of STEM forever!

Image result for stem black history month

A Very Merry STEM Christmas

Kids get time off from school during the holidays, and this is great! It gives them time for independent exploration, but this also means that they have to stay busy. The best way to keep them busy and make sure they’re learning is to do STEM Christmas activities! These activities have all the Christmas cheer and fun, and they’re also a great way to learn!

Below are our favorite STEM Christmas activities.

Christmas Tree Icy Engineering

All the supplies you need for this activity are simple household items! All you need to do is freeze water in different sized containers, and build a Christmas tree out of the ice. Through this, students learn about different shapes, weights, and other characteristics to keep in mind while building their trees. Students will learn simple engineering concepts through festive fun!

Christmas Tree STEM Ice tree building engineering activity

Crystal Candy Canes

For this activity, you will need borax, mason jars, water, and other household supplies. You and the students will create a candy cane out of pipe cleaners. Then, you will mount the candy cane in a mason jar into a mixture. The next day, the candy cane will be covered in crystals – which is AWESOME! Students will learn all about the different mixtures, states of matter, and more!

Crystal candy cane after 24 hours

Erupting Ornaments

The Erupting Ornaments experiment is the most fun Christmas themed experiment. Students will fill clear ornaments with baking soda and vinegar to learn about chemical reactions. The reaction will cause the ornament to erupt and the fizzy mixture to spill. This is a really fun way to learn about reactions, and kids will get to perform this awesome hands-on activity!

Christmas Baking soda science eruption ornaments play

We hope everyone has the best holiday season possible! Stay safe, make time for family and friends, have fun, and learn something new!

Image result for engineering christmas

A STEM Thanksgiving

The season of Thanksgiving is upon us, and it’s always cool to connect STEM and Thanksgiving inside and outside the classroom!

The cool thing about Thanksgiving STEM activities is that they connect STEM and history, so students learn about both, which is awesome!

Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving STEM activities!

Build the Mayflower

Build the Mayflower with your students to teach them about buoyancy! Students will use household objects to build the Mayflower and test whether or not their ideas work. Students can test boats with and without sails, with or without paint, with varying weights, and more!

Mayflower Craft and Science Experiment for Thanksgiving

Cranberry Chemistry

Teach your students all about chemical reactions through the use of cranberry juice, baking soda, and lemon juice! Students will learn how different solutions react; they will also learn all about the different chemicals that cause these reactions.

Cranberry Chemistry

Regrowing Food

Not only is Thanksgiving a cool time to learn about STEM, it’s also a time to be thankful and not wasteful.

Do this cool activity to regrow Thanksgiving food to learn about growing plants!

This is always a fun activity, and it’s even more fun when it’s Thanksgiving!

Image result for regrowing food from scraps thanksgiving

Along with STEM activities, we hope your Thanksgiving is filled with food, fun, and family. Remember to learn something new this holiday! We hope everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Image result for STEM happy thanksgiving