UB’s STEM Bus Finds New Purpose During the Pandemic

STEM on Wheels bus

The University of Bridgeport – Discovery Museum STEM on Wheels bus is serving the area in a new and exciting way.

Founded in 2018, STEM on Wheels is a mobile classroom and laboratory, originally funded by a CHEFA grant to the University. During ordinary times it offers science, technology, engineering, and mathematics experiences for school students in the Bridgeport area. UB students and Discovery Museum staff travel to local elementary, middle, and high schools and give them immersive, interactive experiences that add to their education. “STEM literacy assists students to thrive in the 21st century, both personally and professionally,” says director of biomedical research development and school of engineering faculty member at UB, and the principal director of the STEM Bus, Ruba Deeb.

During the summer session, the STEM-on-Wheels team raised significant cash and mask donations totaling $5,500 from UB alum (Israel J. Hersh '82 and Deborah J. Goodman '91) and friends, Terron Jones, Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport, Discovery Museum, and Yale New Haven Health for the purchase and distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Bridgeport community residents.

Given the community appreciation of the STEM Bus PPE efforts, this semester the UB Catholic Group started a conversation with other student clubs, including BRIDGES International, InterVARSITY, Awaken, Society of Women Engineers, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. They were balancing the need to be safe during the pandemic with the need to serve the community. The solution was “Stuff the Bus,” an ongoing event in which the bus will collect and distribute non-perishable food, cleaning supplies, toiletry items, new household goods, gift cards, and even cash.

With support from the 21st Century Fox grant, UB’s Student Government Association/Student Programming Board, the Office of Civic Engagement, STEM-on-Wheels PPE donations, the CT Healthy Campus Initiative, and DATTCO, Bridgeport residents in need will receive vital necessities from “Stuff the Bus,” through the local organizations of Homes for the Brave, Bridgeport Rescue Mission, Thomas Merton Center, and Caroline House. Some of the donations will also be set aside for UB students who remain on campus over Winter Break.

Students, faculty, and staff who donate items will receive free masks and sanitizers (while supplies last), along with information about the opioid epidemic and voter registration. The School of Engineering and School of Nursing will give demonstrations of STEM activities, as well.

“This University-wide event came about organically,” says Julie Demers of the Office of Corporate, Foundation, Faculty, & Institutional Grants. “It shows UB is still carrying out its mission of promoting academic excellence, personal responsibility and commitment to service despite this pandemic.”

“Stuff the Bus” will be held during the week of October 26th –30th every day from 11:30–1:30 on UB’s Pedestrian Mall between Dana Hall and the Counseling Center.