Although the Iowa State Fair didn’t surpass attendance records this year, early results from an evaluation of STEM Day at the Iowa State Fair show attendance and engagement levels on the Grand Concourse like never before.
Thanks to our partnership with the Blue Ribbon Foundation and our Corporate Partners for the event, including Iowa Workforce Development, Kemin Industries, Noodles & Company and Rockwell Collins, the third year of the event was bigger and better, showing off more than 6,000 square feet of Iowa STEM on the Grand Concourse with 26 exhibitors and their hands-on activities.
Our first-ever STEM Stage had standing-room only for most of the day, hosting exciting stage acts like Blank Park Zoo, the Grout Museum District, the Science Center of Iowa, Team Neutrino with FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) and a juggling mathematics professor, Steve Butler, from Iowa State University. That afternoon, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, co-chair of the STEM Council, and Des Moines Central Campus science teacher Kacia Cain, a STEM Council member, helped launch the I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award, calling for nominations for outstanding STEM teachers in Iowa.
As many as 10,000 Iowans were “STEM-ed” at the State Fair, with 8,500 of them receiving “Greatness STEMs from Iowans” backpacks that helped spread STEM across the fairgrounds. Some participated in the STEM Day at the Fair Checklist. Most took part in assembling a tower, programming a robot, pulse-checking a mannequin, extracting DNA, testing their own torque and dozens of other hands-on adventures.
This annual event—through coordination across several Iowa organizations, volunteers, vendors, Iowa State Fair staff and investments from our Corporate Partners—helps Iowa STEM further reach families to garner greater awareness and understanding, as well as help build a stronger STEM workforce for Iowa.
Story first published in August 2016 newsletter on Wednesday, August 31, 2016