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STEM Festival Huge Success

256 middle school and high school students interested in science, technology, engineering and math, otherwise known as STEM, attended a festival held at Drake University on April 16, 2015. The festival also included 92 presenters and volunteers. The festival was one of 8 scheduled for this year by the South Central STEM Regional Manager, Sarah Derry and her assistant, Lisa Morlock.

The festival gave students of all ages the opportunity to participate in STEM related activities with hands on experience and the opportunity to interact with presenters who work in STEM related fields. A sampling of groups that volunteered included a high school group from Valley High School, a STEM advisory board member and his wife, retired educators and members of the Drake Actuarial club. Some of the presenters included the Drake Music Fraternity, math students and science students, representatives from DMACC STEM and Mercy College of Nursing, just to name a few. There was a broad range of exhibits and interactive activities.  For example, Iowa Mobile Museum, sponsored by the University of Iowa, established a spot just outside of the Olmstead building. The museum is a large black and gold custom bus and challenges inquiring minds to enter, enticing them with the slogan, “Dare to Discover.”

The festival enlightened participants that you can find just about anything around the house to make a STEM prototype. There were wind experiments, skeletal parts, robotic dogs, tablets, mini wind turbines made from sticks and cardboard, marshmallows, plastic beads, plastic eggs, laptops, scales, electricity ball, and red and white plastic balls to represent molecules next to a sign that asked participants, “Can you build different types of water?”

The Governor’s STEM initiative was started in 2012, with Drake University selected as the South Central Iowa STEM Hub. As a hub, Drake’s responsibility is to fund the implementation of scale-up programs, develop an action plan for the South Central region, conduct a needs analysis and strength analysis in the South Central Region of the state and evaluate the implementation of the scale-up programs. For more information about STEM, you can visit the website at scstemhub.drake.edu or contact Dr. Sarah Derry, South Central STEM Hub Manager at: sarah.derry@drake.edu.

Dr. Jack Gittinger photographed the event and you can view those photos here.