Nothing Compares to STEM Day at the Fair

Students participate in STEM activities at the Iowa State Fair
One of the 20 exhibiting partners Iowa Lakes Community College's Director of Sustainable Energy Resources & Technologies Daniel Lutat coaches a young STEM enthusiast at the 2017 STEM Day at the Fair.

Contributed by Madison Flesch, student assistant 

The Iowa State Fair broke attendance records this year with over 1,130,000 people in attendance overall, and STEM Day at the Iowa State Fair on "super Sunday" (August 20) was no different. Early results from evaluation numbers calculated during the event show higher engagement and attendance levels on the Grand Concourse exhibit tent and with our Stage Acts than ever before. 

The sixth year of the event saw an expansion to over 5,000 square feet of Iowa STEM on the Grand Concourse with 20 exhibiting partners with wide and wonderful variations of hands-on activities. Thanks to corporate partners ACT, Kemin Industries, Iowa Workforce Development, We Build Iowa, Rockwell Collins, Robert Half and Vermeer Corporation for sponsoring the event, STEM Day was better than ever with an estimated 1,400 people interacting with exhibitors at any given snapshot moment over the course of the day.

Back for another encore year on the STEM Stage, the Blank Park Zoo, the Grout Museum District, Team Neutrino with FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), the Science Center of Iowa and Iowa State University's "Water Rocks!" and mathematics professor Steve Butler each brought an added dimension of informative fun to families at the Fair. All gathered at noon for remarks and recognitions by STEM Council co-chairs Governor Kim Reynolds and Accumold President and CEO Roger Hargens, followed by FIRST President Don Bossi who honored the World Champion Combustible Lemons of Davenport West. The noon celebration included a special Mentoring Award presented to John Deere's Pat Barnes by Million Women Mentors-Iowa co-chair Jana Rieker and the 2017 debut of Kemin Industry's I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award nomination period by Kemin scientist Dr. Jerilyn Hergenreder. Over 400 people attended the different stage act performances, displaying high levels of engagement with the acts and their content.

Iowans who took a moment to visit the STEM Council's east-edge tent were graced with a "Greatness STEMs from Iowans" backpack, spreading 8,000 of the colorfully branded bags across the Fairgrounds, with as many as 10,000 Iowans getting "STEM-ed" throughout the day. Activities some visitors participated in included the STEM Day at the Fair Checklist, the Iowa STEM Photo Booth, designing a submersible, constructing ferromagnetic art, forming electrical circuits with conductive playdough and dozens of other hands-on undertakings.

This increasingly popular event is possible only through coordination with multiple Iowa organizations, volunteers, Iowa State Fair staff and investments from our Corporate Partners. Especially instrumental in the success of STEM Day at the Fair is Council partner Strategic America for all of the behind-the-scenes work. The result is greater awareness and understanding of Iowa STEM in families, along with building a stronger STEM workforce for Iowa's future.

If you missed the event, you can still get a peek at the day by checking out our photo spread on Facebook.

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