Celebrating STEM in rural communities: A model for an inclusive science and engineering festival

Published:2018, Journal of STEM Outreach
19 Jan 2018; 1(1).
Authors:Munn M, Griswold J, Starks H, Fullerton S, Viernes C, Sipe T, Brown M, Dwight C, Knuth R, Levias S.
Type:Article
ISSN:ISSN 2576-6767
Keywords:

Science and engineering festival, informal science, rural communities, students, teachers, community members, STEM professionals,

View Publication https://www.jstemoutreach.org/article/3719

Abstract

For people living in rural communities, opportunities to meet STEM professionals and visit the science centers, museums, zoos, and aquariums usually found in urban areas are often limited because of geographical isolation, socioeconomic disadvantage, and in many cases, language barriers. To address this issue, two University of Washington (UW) education programs, Genome Science Education Outreach (GSEO) and UW Gaining Early Access and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEARUP) collaborated to implement three annual Yakima Valley Science and Engineering Festivals in a rural area in central Washington. Working with educators and members of the community, we developed a highly inclusive format for the festivals that integrated hands-on activities and demonstrations presented by STEM professionals from around the Pacific Northwest, a showcase of student STEM projects from local secondary and college students, a VEX Robotics competition, and career and college prep information. The festivals reached a wide audience including students, teachers, and community members of all ages. In this report, we describe our approaches and discuss successes, challenges, and impacts on visitors with the hope that our experiences will inform others who are organizing similar events.


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