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News | Nov. 14, 2023

Unboxing Teamwork at LIFT


On November 9th, 2023, students from Detroit schools Chandler Park Academy and Western International High School participated in an UnboxedTM challenge event at LIFT. The UnboxedTM challenge was hosted by Michigan Technological University’s Mind Trekkers program, an educational outreach initiative that brings the awe and power of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to communities around the country.

The idea for the UnboxedTM program was created by Cassy Tefft de Munoz, Executive Director of the Center for Educational Outreach at MTU, along with the Mind Trekkers team. The goal was to address gaps in students’ socioemotional skill development in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We needed a program that was scalable, could be brought into schools to meet students where they were at, and provided a deeper dive into STEM concepts,” Tefft de Munoz emphasized. “However, the actual outcomes of UnboxedTM have exceeded our expectations by making learning intuitive and fun again.”

“We are participating in Unboxedto provide our students with an engaging introduction to STEM,” said Kelvin Wise, District STEM Coordinator for Chandler Park Academy School District. Similar sentiments were shared by Eric Steele, Instructor at Western International High School, stating “The goal is for students to gain experience in STEM and to see a facility [LIFT] that shows what is possible.”

In addition to STEM skills, students must use a variety of “soft skills” to complete challenges. Skills such as communication, teamwork, and leadership are highlighted as qualities used during this challenge and can continue to be utilized no matter what career they choose. Daniela Vazquez, a student from Western International High School, described her opportunity to show leadership. “I was able to show my teammates how to be more involved in activities,” said Vazquez.

“Hosting Unboxed at LIFT provides students with a unique ability to both practice workforce-ready skills and be immersed in an environment where they may one day apply them,” Cassy Tefft de Munoz explained. Educational outreach initiatives, such as MTU and LIFT’s collaboration, are crucial for developing talent in STEM and driving American manufacturing into the future.