STEM fes­ti­val ed­u­cates young learn­ers

Times-Record - - NEWS - By HAN­NAH COMBS [email protected]­times.com

WYE MILLS — The sec­ond an­nual Mid-Shore STEM Fes­ti­val was held Satur­day, Nov. 10, at the Eastern Shore Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter on the Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege cam­pus in Wye Mills. The event was pro­vided free to the pub­lic.

Hosted by the Univer­sity of Mary­land Ex­ten­sion 4-H Pro­gram, the fes­ti­val fo­cused on pro­vid­ing hands-on sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing, and math learn­ing for youth of all ages and their fam­i­lies. Ac­tiv­i­ties in­cluded: in­ter­ac­tive dis­plays and sta­tions, tours, and demon­stra­tions. Youth had the op­por­tu­nity to learn about foren­sic sci­ence, re­cy­cling and en­vi­ron­men­tal top­ics, en­to­mol­ogy, wildlife ecol­ogy, art, elec­tric­ity and cir­cuits, in­sects, and GIS/ com­puter map­ping, and also greet a search and res­cue dog. Tours of Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege in­clud­ing an ex­pe­ri­ence with some of the health care sim­u­la­tion tech­nolo­gies and equip­ment were also of­fered by paramedic David Timms.

Navone Owen, Caro­line County 4-H co­or­di­na­tor said they were pleased with the at­ten­dance of over 150 ele­men­tary aged stu­dents from Dorch­ester, Caro­line, Tal­bot, and Queen Anne’s coun­ties, and Sus­sex County, Delaware.

Re­turn­ing for the sec­ond year with the pro­gram of­fered at Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege, Owen said the MidShore coun­ties were hop­ing to find a way to par­tic­i­pate in the statewide STEM ini­tia­tive. Through 10 days of col­lab­o­ra­tive, in­ter­ac­tive, and dy­namic events and ac­tiv­i­ties held through­out the state, the Mary­land STEM Fes­ti­val pro­vides in­spi­ra­tional, ed­u­ca­tional and ac­ces­si­ble pro­gram­ming in Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy, En­gi­neer­ing and Math­e­mat­ics (STEM). One of the goals of the fes­ti­val is to pro­vide STEM op­por­tu­ni­ties to all of Mar yland with­out re­quir­ing them to travel sig­nif­i­cant dis­tances. Owen said there was a pro­gram in place on the Lower Shore at the Univer­sity of Mary­land Eastern Shore, but that dis­tance re­mained a sig­nif­i­cant travel for Mid-Shore res­i­dents.

With the as­sis­tance of 4-H co­or­di­na­tors in the sur­round­ing coun­ties and the help of Tal­bot 4-H vol­un­teer Debi Urry, who is in charge of the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion build­ing at the col­lege, Owen said they were able to se­cure a lo­ca­tion they hoped would be ac­ces­si­ble to many.

Ad­di­tions to this years pro­gram in­cluded STEM ac­tiv­i­ties for younger au­di­ences (preschool and early ele­men­tary age) pro­vided by the early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment, led by Dr. Sarah Ross, and demon­stra­tions from the Ma­son Dixon Search Dogs Inc.

Ross led in­ter­ac­tive sta­tions such as but­ter mak­ing — a multi-sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence, a sta­tion to con­struct an ever­green tree from pop­si­cle sticks and play dough that helps build en­gi­neer­ing skills and prob­lem solv­ing, and a vol­cano sta­tion, a big hit with the young par­tic­i­pants, she said. Stu­dents from Ross’ early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion classes helped lead the sta­tions and based on the pos­i­tive feed­back and in­ter­est, she hopes to add more ac­tiv­i­ties for next year, she said.

Older stu­dents were en­cour­aged to learn about bee colonies, fin­ger­print­ing, and electrical cir­cuits through in­ter­ac­tive sta­tions led by 4- H and ex­ten­sion ser vice vol­un­teers. The GIS map­ping was a fa­vorite of sev­enth-graders Will John­son and Danny Bar­rett from Caro­line County.

Sev­eral par­ents com­mented on how well ad­ver­tised the event was, with fliers be­ing sent home with stu­dents from school. This too was a change for 2018, said Navone.

In ad­di­tion to the day­long event at Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege other pro­grams were of­fered dur­ing the be­gin­ning of Novem­ber. In Caro­line County, Ad­kins Ar­bore­tum hosted Green Roofs for a Greener Earth, Black­wa­ter Refuge in Dorch­ester hosted Jour­ney to Capri­corn: Sun­sets ad­ven­ture; the li­braries in Queen Anne’s show­cased seven dif­fer­ent STEM projects; and Tal­bot pub­lic li­braries in part­ner­ship with the Ch­e­sa­peake Mar­itime Mu­seum and Philips Wharf of­fered STEM pro­grams as well.

In 2017, the statewide fes­ti­val saw more than 570 sep­a­rate events hosted in 23 coun­ties and Bal­ti­more City. Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy, En­gi­neer­ing and Math re­lated re­sources, pro­fes­sion­als and ac­tiv­i­ties are sprout­ing up all over, and the fes­ti­val serves as a cen­tral hub for those events and re­sources to be high­lighted all over the state, said fes­ti­val co­or­di­na­tors.

Ja­cob Groller, a stu­dent at Pre­ston Ele­men­tary, ex­plores fos­sils with Brad Har­tle from the Univer­sity of Mary­land Eastern Shore.

PHO­TOS BY HAN­NAH COMBS

Molly, Mark and Claire Hein­sohn from Den­ton ex­plore this sta­tion on birds at the STEM fes­ti­val.

Bee colonies and the im­por­tance of pol­li­na­tors was one ex­hibit at the STEM fes­ti­val on Satur­day, Nov. 10.

At the STEM Fes­ti­val held at Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege, stu­dents are in­tro­duced to en­to­mol­ogy — the sci­en­tific study of in­sects, a branch of zo­ol­ogy.

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