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FEATURED STEM WEEK EVENT: Silverton STEM Night: Breaking STEM Stereotypes and Engaging Everyone

Silverton, OR – Thursday, May 4th at 5:30 p.m. will bring a flurry of activity at Silverton High School (SHS), as the local community participates in STEM Week Oregon 2017, a statewide celebration of all things Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). According to Creighton Helms, Astronomy Teacher at SHS, “STEM Night is a fantastic opportunity for the whole community—and I mean the whole community, from age 2 to age 92—to come out to the school campus and experience STEM in all of its forms. There has been an incredible amount of effort to make the displays, activities and hands-on projects for attendees as diverse as possible, so that the widest audience has a chance to learn about what ‘STEM’ means and what STEM can help us achieve in the world.”


Oregon Museum of Science and Industry will be on hand with a mobile planetarium to show off the wonders of the universe, local middle school students will be demonstrating school science projects, participants will be able to launch rockets with an all-girls rocket club and the local robotics team (which did very well in recent state competitions) will be present with their gadgets.


Special guest Dan Adamo, who worked for NASA for over thirty years and still consults in the industry, will be on hand to educate the crowd about the solar eclipse. Silverton High School is one of only a few high schools in the country to be deploying a high-altitude weather balloon during this summer’s solar eclipse, equipped with cameras and sensors to collect data on the event; NASA funded this project. Creighton, who is working with the participating students on the project, will be present with the teens and they will be showing off their equipment and exploring the project with visitors. Many industry partners will have informational stations and booth activities, too, showing how integral STEM fields are to many different types of businesses and workforce skills.


When asked why Silverton’s STEM Event is so comprehensive in its scope and why the organizers wanted it to have such a broad appeal, Creighton had a ready answer. “We want everyone, from little kids to adults, can see that they can personally engage with STEM, adopt STEM-inspired thinking and participate in STEM activities. It’s not just for students, it’s not just for people at work. It can be a lifelong passion.” He continued, “We want to break up stereotypes and encourage hands-on engagement. STEM isn’t just for boys, it’s not just about designing a bridge or doing a math problem. The skills that one acquires through STEM activities, like creative problem-solving, interest in finding out how and why things work, and the ability to analyze information are applicable to any work situation, in a STEM field or not.”

Over dozens of organizations and industry partners, and hundreds of individuals are expected to attend and celebrate at Silverton’s STEM Night. Throughout Oregon, over 100 events are taking place for STEM Week, with nearly 3000 adults and over 11,500 kids participating.


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Melissa Dubois is the South Metro-Salem Hub STEM Director. The South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership (SMSP) 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.