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Citizen takes initiative and steps up to expand STEM education

Statesboro resident, Georgia Southern alum, and STEM education fan Mark Fuller visited the Statesboro-Bulloch County Library with his son one day not long ago and noticed that their 3D printer in the lobby was not working.
Statesboro resident and GS alum Mark Fuller leads STEM event Credit: Brandon Robinson | Grice Connect

Statesboro resident, Georgia Southern alum, and STEM education fan Mark Fuller visited the Statesboro-Bulloch County Library with his son one day not long ago and noticed that their 3D printer in the lobby was not working. When he offered to help them fix it, that started a conversation with Cindy Hatchell, assistant manager at the library, about what else he could contribute to the library's programming.

Fuller then got the ball rolling on securing their event space for a STEM-related event for any interested students. His first event at the library was a huge success. The students attending the first STEM event expressed so much interest in the catapults that he decided to plan a second event to solely focus on the building and understanding of those structures. As predicted, it was a hit.

Passionate about making a difference in STEM education

Fuller, at right, supervises catapult and missile construction. (Photo: Brandon Robinson)

Fuller is deeply passionate about making a difference in the Statesboro STEM community and in the lives of local students. His goal is to help further equip and prepare students for their future careers by expanding their curiosity and interest in STEM fields.

Fuller’s passion continues to deeply impact the lives of so many local STEM students, and he feels this is just the beginning of his fun and interactive work within the Statesboro community.

“I wanted to give back to the Statesboro Community and Georgia Southern in the ways that I could," Mark Fuller said. "I had been asking myself for a while now how I could go about contributing to the future of the local STEM kids in the area. And so, it dawned on me that I could contribute my 3D printing expertise by partnering with the Statesboro-Bulloch County Library to bring a fun learning program to the area’s local science students.”

The second STEM event at the library

Fuller enlisted the help of his friend Dr. Drew Snelling of Georgia Southern University to host his second STEM event at the Statesboro-Bulloch County Library. While primarily geared toward ages 6-12, Fuller welcomed any interested students to attend.

Dr. Snelling, at left, helps a group prepare materials. (Photo: Brandon Robinson)

The event centered on the topic of learning about catapults and 3D printers, and the admission was free for all attending kids. At the core of the event, the children learned more about the concepts of potential and kinetic energy and how those contributing factors affect the power and momentum behind successfully launching catapults at targets.

The event began with Bulloch County students eagerly awaiting the building and launching of their own 3D catapults. Seeing the excitement on their faces, Fuller and Snelling quickly began their introductory presentation, which went over both kinetic and potential energy.

They explained that kinetic and potential energy are the core factors which affect the success or failure of a catapult hitting a target accurately. Potential energy is the starting energy which an object has while it is in its resting position. But kinetic energy is the energy that an object has once it is in motion.

After the presentation wrapped up, Fuller and Snelling split the kids into two groups; one group was sent to observe a 3D printer in action which ended up making a miniature boat, while the other group marked and prepped the catapult contraptions to be used in the launching of their paper ball missiles toward their plastic cup stacked towers.

The kids kept track of their data on their “Catapult Launch Tracker” sheets, and once the full activity rules were given, the students released their inhibitions and had the time of their young, scientific lives! (See a video of the fun above!)

Fuller and Snelling

Mark Fuller, left, and Dr. Drew Snelling, right (Photo: Brandon Robinson)

Mark Fuller graduated at the top of his Engineering class from Georgia Southern in 2010 and currently works remotely from Statesboro as a Senior Design Engineer in the Additive Manufacturing Department at GE Additive. He worked previously at Gulfstream Aerospace and still does training for big companies regularly in the aerospace and engineering sector. Most of his time these days is spent designing and building metal 3D printed parts for cars, military aircrafts, and spacecrafts!

Similarly, Dr. Drew Snelling has extensive history in the manufacturing and engineering sector. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Manufacturing Engineering Department at GSU. He has an extensive resume detailing his experience, ranging from the earning of his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech to the founding of his technology start-up “Direct Measurements,” to his wide-ranging stint as a professor in various institutions of Academia. Additionally, he holds 7 patents currently, which are all directly related to Additive Manufacturing calibration and automation.

Fuller makes himself available to local teachers

For more information on Mark Fuller’s ongoing scientific tutorials, please visit his YouTube channel. If you are interested in having Fuller give a scientific demonstration or program to your students, please contact him at [email protected] or 770-355-1223.

This is Grice Good

When a citizen sees an opportunity and takes an initiative to make a difference in any area of our community, this thrills us at Grice Connect. Not only did Mark Fuller see an immediate need, Cindy Hatchell embraced Fuller and his enthusiasm to make a difference. Then they brought in Dr. Drew Snelling who unselfishly offered to give his time and talents to help grow Fuller's idea.

How often do we see a need that we have the resources or talents to fill but we just assume someone else will do it? Then there are times when you offer to help and the people in charge won't let you in.

Fuller stepped up, and Hatchell removed the barriers for him to succeed. This is remarkable and inspirational. We send out a Grice Good to Fuller, Hatchell, and Snelling for their initiative and example.

Statesboro-Bulloch County Library is ready to serve you

The staff of the Statesboro-Bulloch County Library works daily to provide interesting, informative, and creative programs and information to our community. If you haven't visited the library lately, we encourage you visit this hidden jewel right in the middle of downtown.

For more information on the ongoing community events being held at the Statesboro Bulloch County Library, please visit their website, or call them at 912-764-1341. The November events calendar is below.