The Northeast Iowa festival of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for elementary - middle school students and their families was held Thursday March 14, 2013, at the Wilder Business Center on the Northeast Iowa Community College Campus. The Family STEM festival provided hands-on activities for more than 650 students and parents to experience opportunities that are available in careers related to STEM. As an organization that believes in STEM and a well-educated workforce, 4-H recognizes the interest of youth in STEM fields of study and is working to introduce them to STEM-related educational and career opportunities.
The County Youth Coordinators from Region Four led fun and interactive hands-on activities for students at the festival. Those activities included Science on a Stick, ten simple-to-do experiments that allow participants to experience 4-H's unique and engaging hands-on approach to science education. Catapult design and testing was the second station provided to participants. Each person was able to make their own catapult and test shooting marshmallows at a target for a prize. Additionally, participants were able to use premade larger catapults to learn about the different ways that levers work. Testing different methods of propulsion was a unique part of the experience for our youth. The last station was a robotic sensor activity that allowed students and parents to test their skills at following a line against a robot. While this seems like it would be simple, the robot is almost always more successful at following the line than the participant.
Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Food Corps interns spent time with participants teaching them about the value of raising their own fruits and vegetables to eat. Youth made a biodegradable container from old newspapers and were able to plant seeds in soil that they added to the container.
To learn more about STEM opportunities in 4-H please contact your Iowa State University Extension and Outreach County office.