Local engineer brings STEM to Tahoe students with mobile learning lab

Laney Griffo


SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — With the pandemic halting most in classroom learning, one South Lake Tahoe man is bringing education to the students wherever they are.

David Wise, co-founder of Tahoe STEM Camp at Lake Tahoe Community College, launched the mobile Tahoe STEM Academy in August.

“I wanted to expand [the camp] even more,” Wise said. “The mobile STEM academy helps kids that are super passionate and want to go beyond what’s offered at the camp.”

STEM education is the expansion and combination of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Wise grew up on the South Shore, attending Lake Tahoe Unified School District schools. He got his degree in mechanical and oceanic engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During his time at MIT, he helped develop STEM based curriculums at middle schools and high schools, a job he really enjoyed.

“I’m passionate about teaching science to students,” Wise said.

When he moved back to South Lake, he wanted to continue helping young people learn STEM, leading him to help start the Tahoe STEM Camp with local businesswoman and scientist Jamie Orr.

The camp is offered over four weeks from mid-July to mid-August and is available for students starting at 6 years of age through middle school.

The combination of wanting to offer students more in depth learning and because hands-on learning had basically stopped because of COVID, led Wise to start the mobile STEM Academy.

Wise wants to offer mountain town students the same opportunities students in big cities get. So he offers personalized private and group lessons in whatever STEM topic the students are most interested in such as building robotics, 3-D printing and electronics and programming.

During a session, he brings the mobile lab, with heaters so students can learn outside and tools for each student so they don’t have to share.

The group classes are for groups of four to six children that are roughly the same age. The class is taught over four, 3-hour sessions. All experience levels are accepted.

He’s excited about being able to expand the program once it’s safe to do so, including bigger groups and going into classrooms.

“I want to build a hub in Tahoe for STEM education for kids,” Wise said.

Wise knows the pandemic has created hard times for a lot of South Tahoe families and he doesn’t want money to hold students back from learning, so he’s offering scholarships for students.

“Education should be equitable,” Wise said.

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