Free hands-on fun and learning for all ages is the goal of STEM in the Park. The eighth annual event, featuring interactive displays and activities, musical performances and lunch, runs from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. September 23 at the Perry Field House at Bowling Green State University (BGSU). To find out more, we contacted Susan Marie Stearns, assistant director of programming and development at the Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education at BGSU, which organizes the event:
Q: Give us an overview of STEM in the Park.
A: STEM in the Park was founded by Drs. Emilio and Lena Duran, both faculty members in the College of Education at BGSU. It was their idea to present hands-on and inquiry-based STEM activities in a fun and friendly atmosphere to engage people of all ages in these fields. This event has become our passion at the Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education, as we strive as a team to enlighten all participants in activities that are purposefully created to get our minds engaged in STEM.
Jenna Pollock is our coordinator, and each year she leads the effort with the Durans to bring amazing and colorful activities to this event that last year attracted nearly 4,700 people to our campus. We are very proud to offer this program at no cost to participants and include STEM takeaways to extend learning at home along with a lunch by local Toledo favorite Tony Packo’s.
More than 150 unique, hands-on STEM activity stations will be offered at STEM in the Park. The event allows participants to “become” a food technologist, dabble in agricultural science, launch pop rockets, pet lizards, operate remote-controlled robots and much more.
|STEM in Park: Meet our MakerMinded team!
Among the thousands of people at STEM in the Park on Saturday, you can find two Battelle staff who support the network. Heather Sherman and Julie Francis will both be at the event, recruiting schools and students for MakerMinded Ohio. Stop by the MakerMinded booth to meet them both. Arrive early and you might even snag a special gift featuring MakerMinded’s student-created mascot, Finley the Fabricator.
Q: With whom do you partner to put on this event?
A: We partner with not only BGSU but also a multitude of community partners, local businesses and area universities that create the interactive displays and activities. We also rely heavily on our sponsors who contribute not only financially through grants and donations but also offer activity stations.
Q: What is new this year?
A: STEM in the Park will feature two new activity zones: the All Wheels Zone and the Robotics Zone. Participants can get their wheels turning with STEM by encountering all types of wheels, tires and gears in motion in the All Wheels Zone. We’ve also partnered with The Right Direction, a local organization whose mission is to empower youth by increasing action-sports’ access as a tool for positive youth development. A team of their professional action-sports athletes will put on demonstrations.
In the Robotics Zone, participants will interact with organizations that highlight cutting-edge technology involved with the design, construction, operation and application of robots.
Q: What is returning?A: Back by popular demand are the Food Science Zone, the Science & Technology of Digital Media Zone, the high-energy Science of Sports Zone and the H2O Zone, which explores the science behind water’s amazing uses.Roots to STEM Pre-K-2 Zone is also back this year, featuring activities that cater to younger children. As part of the Food Science Zone, attendees are invited to bring a food or basic household/personal care item to donate to Food for Thought. Donations will be taken to the local Cocoon Shelter.The indoor STEM stage will once again feature super-sized demos from the Imagination Station and the Toledo Zoo.Activity station hosts also include BGSU’s Marine Lab and Herpetarium, SSOE Group, Verizon, Challenger Learning Center of Lake Erie West, Nature’s Nursery, Toledo Zoo and more than 80 other institutions and organizations.
Q: What have been the most popular activities?A: There are so many! The Making Butterfly Larva Necklaces from BGSU’s School of Teaching and Learning, the Virtual World Goggles from Verizon, the Reptiles are Cool from BGSU’s Herpetarium and the Amazing Animals from the Toledo Zoo are some of the most popular.Q: What kind of feedback have you received? A: The results from an evaluative survey indicate most participants believe STEM in the Park activities are highly engaging and positively impactful on children’s interest in STEM, which is one of our main goals.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share about this event?A: We are very proud to offer transportation grants to students as transportation is the main barrier to attendance. This will be our fifth consecutive year to offer this to underrepresented students from all over the region, both in the inner city and rural areas. We expand this effort each year, and reach out even farther in northwestern Ohio.We truly love to put on this event and are happy to see how it grows each year. More information can be found on our website: www.steminthepark.org.