On Friday, February 1st STEM in the Park held our first ever EMFest (engineering and math)! With help from sponsors Red Hat, RTI, NetApp, Cree, Research Triangle Foundation, and AmeriCorps VISTA, we brought one hundred and forty-six students from seven North Carolina schools (Louisburg High School, Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School, Warren County High School, Person Early College for Innovation and Leadership, Neal Middle School, East Garner Middle School, and Mills Park Middle School) to the Research Triangle Park to practice their STEM skills and talk with the professionals themselves!
EMFest was the second in a STEM Fest series (TechFest, EMFest, SciFest) designed to connect students with engineering and math professionals, and caught the attention of local media sites such as EdNC! The fest included four engaging sessions: Think, Meet, Imagine, and Build. Students talked to engineering and math experts as they rotated between these sessions and were able to discuss the various paths that may lead to a fulfilling career in STEM.
During Think, the students solved real-world problems in partnership with STEM professionals, using design thinking principles. The students worked in small groups with one of seven organizations (Biogen, Citrix, Cree, IBM, NetApp, Red Hat, and RTI) that walked them through day-to-day challenges at work. Together with the engineers and mathematicians, students were able to design their own solutions and reinforce their confidence in their own abilities.
STEM professional feedback
- “EMFest is an amazing opportunity to help young teens and high schoolers engage, network and problem solve.”
- “It was very gratifying to see the students come out of their shells to collaborate.”
- “I liked Think because we broke out in different groups and learned and met new people.”
- “I like all the different ideas they gave us and how different problems can affect our daily lives.”
During Meet, students were able to talk to a wide variety of STEM professionals from companies like IBM, NetApp, and the American Board of Pediatrics, who work with engineering or math on a daily basis!
Speed mentors each have their own unique reason for participating in STEM Fests:
- “I had many people encourage me to pursue a career in STEM and these mentors had a great impact on my life – I want to pay that forward.”
- “I feel very strongly about developing and supporting young people’s interest in STEM fields. Expanding opportunities for girls and minority students to learn about what is possible in STEM matters!”
In Imagine, SAS, EPA, Skanska, Surface 678, Cree, and NetApp engaged the students with hands-on demonstrations, using a show and tell model to explain to students what these careers look like every day.
STEM professional feedback:
- “[STEM Fests are] great events for reaching a variety of students and for networking with educators and STEM coordinators for future STEM outreach events!”
- “…a great way to inspire the next generation of engineers and do something different than your day to day.”
- “It was rewarding to be able to talk to teens about their interests and passions. It opens a window into yourself.”
Build was run by FIRST NC, a partner of STEM in the Park, who explained to students what goes into building and operating robots for competitions before letting them test drive a robot for themselves!
- “I liked seeing the robots and talking with companies and employees, it helped me see STEM in motion.”
- “I enjoyed everything that I learned today. I really liked the group with the robot and how they created it on their own!”
Lunch was powered by IBM and provided by Publix for the students and Jimmy John’s, Fount Coffee, and Chick-fil-A for the STEM professionals. During lunch, students were able to take part in the Marshmallow Challenge, a game that teaches teamwork, the engineering process, material structuring, and the physics of motion and gravity.
EMFest was an absolute success, and over 90% of students left knowing that engineering and math have a positive impact on their daily lives! For more statistics from EMFest, see our infographic below.
If you’d like to be a part of our next STEM Fest, click the links below or email us today at STEMinthePark@rtp.org!
Sign Up for Our Upcoming Fest!
Apr. 5th, 2019: SciFest (science-focused)