On December 28, 2018, a team of 4 Villanova University engineering students visited Gayatri Public School in Himachal Pradesh, India. The team, comprised of Lauren Carroll (Sophomore, Mechanical Engineering), Annette Ciecierega (Sophomore, Mechanical Engineering), Charlotte Smith (Junior, Chemical Engineering), and Amanda Findlay (Graduate Student, Sustainable Engineering), had been preparing for this day since late August. They worked over the course of the Fall 2018 semester to brainstorm and add activities to a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) manual previously implemented by Villanova Engineering students at Gayatri Public School.
The team traveling this winter conducted
1. STEM activities with students to grow interest in and encourage students (especially girls) to pursue STEM careers. The STEM activities conducted and concepts presented covered a variety of topics from accuracy, precision, and catapults to the scientific method and an egg drop to air resistance and parachutes. The students (from Villanova and GPS) also had the opportunity to tour the local water treatment and distribution facility, as well as the Shanan Power House, a local hydro electric project.
2. A teacher training workshop to encourage teachers to practice and improve their English speaking and writing skills. The teacher training workshop was a success and while the teachers learned a bit about Microsoft Excel, the Villanova students learned about the key characteristics that make teachers great: patience, positivity, and encouragement. While the Villanova students traveled many miles to the Gayatri Public School to teach and conduct STEM activities, they left having learned about a beautiful and rich culture, about what it means to be a teacher, and more about themselves. Returning to the United States, the team’s suitcases seemed lighter because as promised, a piece of their hearts remained behind at the foot of the Himalayas.
Partnership with Villanova University
The partnership between the Villanova College of Engineering, specifically the Villanova Engineering Service Learning program, and the Gayatri Public School via the Himalayan Hope Charitable Foundation has been in effect since 2012. Since 2012, many teams of Villanova Engineering students have experienced the beauty and hospitable nature of Himachal Pradesh.
This post was written by Amanda Findlay, a graduate student at Villanova University in Sustainable Engineering and member of the team who visited GPS in Dec. '18 - Jan. '19, and Poonam Sharma, a cell therapy scientist and director of Himalayan Hope Charitable Foundation.