“Find your group. Explore, design, build or create!” These will be some of the key words heard at events around the region when local youth gather to for hands-on activities that engage the mind, teach problem-solving skills, and encourage collaboration. This celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) is just one of a number that will be held in the Portland Metro area as part of STEM Week Oregon. (Some programs include art, another field that focuses on process and creativity, producing the acronym STEAM.) Now in its third year, this annual event was formally established by governor proclamation and seeks to build excitement around STEM in school and community programs, and boost student achievement and workforce development in these areas.
One such event was the STEAM Exploration, held in Portland Community College’s (PCC) SE Great Hall at Mt. Tabor both during and after school on Friday, May 5. Kids and their families gathered to participate in hand-on activities and tabling from local out-of-school programming providers, which included: Saturday Academy, Little Medical School, Airway Science for Kids, Engineering for Kids, iUrban Teen, PCC STEM Center 3D Printing and many more. Says Sarah Rose Evans, STEM CTE Education Program Coordinator at PCC, “We see our role as promoting STEM fields and skills to both college students and to the community. We open our doors for K-12 kids and love to have them on campus, where they can learn how STEM is intersectional, how it crosses many fields and topics.” Evans remembered, “We had a third grade class here recently on a tour in a Physics classroom. Their eyes lit up with the possibilities they saw in all the ramps, balls and equipment. I could see that we inspired them, creating a whole class of budding physicists!”
STEM Week is supported by Oregon’s eleven STEM Hubs, funded in part by the Oregon Department of Education, to build connections in a geographic region so that learners can connect to STEM experiences early and often, igniting students’ passions and interest in STEM. “At Portland Metro STEM Partnership (PMSP), we partner with educators, community organizations and industry to promote STEM opportunities, recruit students for programs and help design activities and teacher education,” said Kristin Harrison, Co-Director of PMSP. She continued, “PCC has been one of our very active partners, putting on community events like STEAM Exploration, and hosting after-school programs and teacher activities in their MakerSpace.”