Wilsonville, OR. The star-studded lineup reads like a “Who’s Who” in the heady world of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM): eight school districts and their STEM teachers, students and parents; Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI); Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum; Tualatin Mobile Makerspace; Saturday Academy; FIRST LEGO League; and industry partners such as Garmin and PGE. These celebrities of exploration, creativity, investigation and discovery will be walking the carpet at World of Speed Motorsports Museum on Thursday, May 4th at 6 p.m. for the third annual STEMapalooza, a festival of student achievement and discovery in STEM fields.
As Rick Krause, Professional Development Project Coordinator for the South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership (SMSP), sponsor of the event, stated, “What began as an event to show off STEM projects that our partner classes completed during the year has grown into an amazing evening for kids. They not only get to demo their work for others, they can experiment with a wide array of hand-on activities that show, instead of tell, how things work or how they are constructed, creating interest and excitement around STEM.” He continued, “Our classes, and industry and community partners, bring engaging projects that appeal to the natural curiosity of students, showing them how they can make things happen with math, science and tech skills.”
The World of Sports will be free on Thursday night and humming, with tables showcasing interactive student projects for visitors to try, such as helping students from Lakeridge Jr. High in Lake Oswego build a roller coaster or helping students from Dayton Jr./Sr. High school build frogger projects. In all, students & teachers from Molalla, Tigard-Tualatin, Dayton, Dallas, Newberg, Oregon City, Independence (Central S.D.) and Lake Oswego will be there. Competency in these areas also aligns with new Common Core and Next Generation Science standards. Krause noted that, “STEM is about doing things. Many students don’t know if they are, or will be, good at this kind of material. But, when they are introduced to these fields, and get a chance to try, the excitement of discovery opens things up for them; they fall in love with learning and are exposed to excellent future career opportunities.”
That’s one of the reasons why industry is partnering with SMSP; future employees need to be familiar with skills developed in STEM fields, including analysis, collaboration and creative problem-solving. And since SMSP has a special emphasis on connecting to students with varied backgrounds, companies benefit by having the opportunity to increase diversity in these fields in the future.
Krause sums up STEMapalooza this way, “Our work–and this event–emphasizes experience, trying things out and becoming curious about what will happen. That’s what kids remember. And the fun they have keeps them coming back.”
South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership: The South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership catalyzes Oregon students to achieve STEM degrees and certificates, and reach Oregon’s education goals by increasing the access, excitement and engagement of students in STEM courses and experiential learning. It is a collaboration of school districts, community colleges, universities, out-of-school programs and business and community partners that is focused on increasing student access and success in STEM fields.
Participating School Districts and Community Partners:
Central School District, Dallas School District, Dayton School District, Lake Oswego School District, Molalla River School District, Newberg School District, Oregon City School District, Tigard-Tualatin School District; Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI); Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum; Tualatin Mobile Makerspace; Saturday Academy; FIRST LEGO League; Garmin; PGE