Regional STEM managers and their regional advisory boards are hard at work, uniting schools, businesses, nonprofits, higher education institutions, out-of-school educators and entire communities in bringing family STEM festivals to towns and cities across Iowa.
A STEM festival is a free and hands-on, educational experience, engaging preK-12 students and their families to explore STEM opportunities. The festivals draw in hundreds-and sometimes, even thousands-to discover or nurture their interest in STEM. Festivals show students at a young age that STEM careers and fields of study are fun, exciting and offer many rewarding opportunities.
The genesis of the family STEM festival concept comes from the idea that STEM innovation in preK-12 schools is not sufficient in driving a statewide STEM fever without the support of parents and communities. Since the launch of the STEM Council almost four years ago, STEM festivals have attracted thousands of families and have united the business, industry and educational assets in dozens of communities to inspire local youth and families. Each STEM festival is thoroughly evaluated by its regional STEM manager by attendance and impact, which is then used to improve on year after year.
Last year, a total of 37 STEM festivals across the state attracted more than 10,000 Iowans, and interest in contributing to these festivals has grown each year. Now, Regional STEM managers enjoy the offerings of numerous community partners to exhibit, showcase and even co-fund local, STEM festivals.
The power of these community events that help inspire and prepare youth across Iowa for the STEM careers that await can be felt by anyone in attendance. To witness it for yourself or to get involved with a STEM festival, contact your regional STEM manager and reference the event listed at www.iowastem.gov/stemevents.
To get an inside look, watch this video of the Cedar Valley Family STEM Festival in Waterloo from November.