As most students at Missouri University of Science and Technology understand, STEM (or Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) is very important in society as a whole today and has been something idolized by many since the dawn of man. STEM led us to the Scientific Revolution, common practice of the Scientific Method, advanced mathematics making architecture more complex, the ability to mitigate many deaths from dangerous plagues, and so much more.
Last weekend, I spoke with Dr. David Westenberg, a professor of Biological Sciences at Missouri S&T and one of the organizers and the contact person for a new event at S&T this year called STEMFest, which was organized to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the school this year, to learn more about the event. He told me that the event was proposed by himself with inspiration from Dr. Cavaglia – a professor from the Physics department – and worked with the S&T 150th Anniversary team and several student organizations. Dr. Westenberg seemed very excited for the first ever STEMFest and hopes that it can be something which is continued annually.
STEMFest took place at the Missouri S&T Student Recreation Center on Saturday, October 2nd between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM. STEMFest is an event which celebrates science, technology, engineering, and mathematics by opening hands-on activities and demonstrations to the general public; the goal of STEMFest is to share exciting STEM-related activities with the public and get younger people more interested. STEMFest began with visitors coming to the Rec Center and picking up a “Passport” and visiting tables set up by various organizations with activities, demonstrations, and displays about their disciplines where visitors could get their passports stamped. Visitors’ stamps on their passports could be checked for STEM buttons and other prizes at the end of their visit. Some of the activities at various student organizations’ tables included the following: a Gaffers Guild simulation on glassmaking, an iGEM DNA extraction from wheat germ, chemistry activities with Alpha Chi Sigma and Schrenk Society, a SCRUBS and Helix display on blood cells, a Phi Sigma exhibit of different animals such as hissing cockroaches, students from the Psychology department showing the change in perception of moon phases based on position in the sky, and various design teams speaking on their design projects. Participating student organizations included: Mars Rover Team, Schrenk Society, Phi Sigma, Scrubs/Helix, the Psychology Department, iGEM, Engineering Geologists, Society of Exploration Geophysicists, Concrete Canoe Team, Engineers Without Borders, Alpha Chi Sigma, Steel Bridge Team, Society of Women Engineers, Women in Nuclear, Gaffers Guild, Solar House Team, and Keramos/Material Advantage.
Outside of the room where student organizations were set up, there was a 150th Anniversary History exhibit on Missouri S&T where visitors were able to learn more about the school and get their pictures taken. Besides setting up this exhibit and doing a lot of work for planning the event and creating promotional material, the team organized for the 150th Anniversary also created a community mural which was set up for visitors to color.
An event which is able to show young people about the importance of STEM through interactions with S&T students who are surrounded by reasons for its importance every day on the scale of STEMFest is unprecedented for S&T. It is great to see an event like STEMFest be organized for the commemoration of 150 years of Missouri S&T, and I would hope that an event like STEMFest could be regularly scheduled to be a hallmark of how important STEM is to S&T students and anyone else living today.
Photo Caption: Uncolored mural created by the 150th Anniversary team.