Seymour Middle School student pursues engineering experience

A Seymour Middle School student has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pursue his interest in engineering this summer.

Eighth-grader Zach Bowman was nominated and selected to represent Seymour at the Envision 2018 National Youth Leadership Forum: Explore STEM in July at Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois.

The theme for this year’s program revolves around space and will require Bowman to use knowledge and skills in science, technology, engineering and math to plan a “Mission to Mars.”

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During the six-day experience from July 22 to 27, Bowman and other students his age from across the country will participate in hands-on simulations, workshops and competitions. The whole point of the program is to learn STEM by doing, Bowman said.

Other important skills students are expected to use and develop during the program are time management, critical thinking, conflict resolution, communication and public speaking.

Bowman maintains a 3.5 grade-point average at school and has career goals of becoming a civil engineer. He also has an interest in robotics, he said.

Although engineering is his main interest, he also will get to try his hand at forensic science, robotics programming and even responding to simulated medical emergencies during Explore STEM.

“This will be a powerful experience enabling me to interact with respected professionals in various fields while building relationships with other students,” Bowman said. “I’m excited to learn more about engineering.”

Other Seymour students who have attended the program in the past include Mary Higdon, Shane Heironimus and Kirstin Meyers.

In order to attend the program, Bowman must raise $2,985 by June 1 to pay for tuition and travel costs. He doesn’t want money to be the one thing that keeps him from being able to go, he said.

He is investing every dollar of his own money and through support from his family, friends and neighbors already has come up with $500.

To raise the rest, he is seeking sponsorships and donations from people, businesses and organizations in the community.

Bowman also is participating in an online fundraiser selling magazine subscriptions, cards, cookie dough and other items at with 40 percent of each purchase going to fund his trip.

Teacher Nathan Owen, who leads Seymour Middle School’s introduction to engineering class, said he nominated Bowman for several reasons, including the respect he shows for his teachers and fellow students, his work ethic and his inquisitiveness.

Bowman had been in Owen’s nine-week Project Lead the Way pre-engineering class before being promoted to the yearlong course, where he has learned how to do three-dimensional design and printing.

“What convinced them to transfer me into his yearlong course was 3-D sketching,” Bowman said. “We just had isometric grid paper, and my sketches were apparently the best out of a lot of them he’s ever seen.”

Although he was surprised at first to find out Owen had nominated him for the Explore STEM program, Bowman said he later realized he kind of expected it because of his level of interest in and dedication to the field of engineering.

“It just seems like in the coming years, it’s going to be more needed than a lot of other fields,” he said. “From what I’ve done so far, it seems more challenging, and I like to challenge myself.”

Owen said he has been impressed with Bowman since the beginning.

“You can always depend on Zach to do what is right,” Owen said. “We hear a lot of adults describe kids today as lazy. He is the opposite. He always has possible solutions to questions, he asks questions to learn more about topics and he is willing to do the work to test out his ideas.

“If you challenge him with difficult work, he is willing to fail to eventually find his way,” Owen said. “This is something that is not common. These characteristics make Zach stand out.”

Bowman’s mother, Erika Burton, is proud of her son’s intellect and supports his passion for engineering.

“I was ecstatic,” she said of learning Bowman had been nominated and approved for the Explore STEM program. “I think I was more excited than he was.”

Owen said he gives a lot of credit for Bowman’s success to how he has been raised.

“He has obviously been taught all of these things at home,” Owen said. “Having great parents has given Zach an opportunity to shine. He doesn’t take these opportunities for granted, and he is willing to step out of his comfort zone to reach the next level. We can’t wait to see what all he can achieve in the future.”

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How to support Seymour Middle School student Zach Bowman’s goal to attend the Envision 2018 National Youth Leadership Forum: Explore STEM this summer

Checks can be made to Envision Explore: STEM and mailed to Zach Bowman, 11313 E. County Road 1040N, Seymour , IN 47274 or to Envision Explore STEM, Attn: Enrollment Department, 1919 Gallows Road, Vienna, VA 22182. If sending a check directly to Envision, the donor should include Zach Bowman’s name and student ID 921920-84627311 on the memo line.

He also is selling cookie dough, magazine subscriptions, cards and other items through with 40 percent of each purchase going to fund his trip.