Students from kindergarten through 8th grade are invited to East Aurora School District 131’s 2nd annual STEM-a-palooza. The event is a free interactive science, technology, engineering and math festival held on Saturday, April 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cowherd Middle School, 441 N. Farnsworth Avenue.
District 131 students will have the opportunity to participate in hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math activities. Parents attending can learn how to continue STEM learning at home through activities with their children.
The event is set up for kids to move freely from booth to booth to try new things, learn, and most of all, have fun.
Featured this year will be the Lego robotics team from Cowherd Middle School, who will be showcasing their work. A course will be set up for the kids to practice their robot programing skills.
Christopher Heath, the district’s science and social studies facilitator, feels the event will be even better than last year. “We’re growing our event this year, with more things for kids to experience and learn,” said Heath. “We’re also holding the event on Earth Day, so we are giving away a copy of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax to the kids who attend, with specific activities related to protecting the environment and being eco-friendly.”
Heath said that getting kids, particularly young kids, interested in STEM is critical in today’s world. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that between 2012 and 2022, STEM jobs would grow to more than 9 million jobs, a growth rate of 13 percent.
Heath adds that women and minority groups are underrepresented in STEM-related careers, proportionally based on their population size, and that hooking students’ interest in STEM early is important.
“STEM-a-palooza plays a role in helping to hook students early in STEM by showing them a world of possibilities, while showing parents how they can help grow their budding scientist outside of school hours. We will give them examples of simple experiments and activities the kids can do at home.”
Now in its second year, STEM-a-palooza will welcome outside groups to the event, including Argonne National Lab, Fermi Lab, ComEd, Nicor, the NIU Chemistry Honors Fraternity, North Central College Women in Science Club, DePaul’s ACM-W chapter, the Aurora Public Library, The Kane County Forest Preserve, Red Oak Nature Center (planning partner), University of Illinois Extension (planning partner), Sci Tech, the APD Mobile Crime Scene Unit, and Aurora Fire Department.