DMACC Holds 3rd Annual STEM Festival Monday

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ANKENY, Iowa — Hundreds of students from around the metro will converge to take part in one of the biggest learning events of year, Des Moines Area Community College’s STEM Festival.

The focus is getting students involved in science, technology, engineering, and math at an early age, to better prepare them for careers in those fields.

“It is pure mayhem and excitement,” said Kari Henson, Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences at DMACC.

Mayhem and excitement are words you don’t hear very often when it comes to STEM activities, but that’s what will happen Monday, when DMACC holds their 3rd Annual STEM Festival.

“We could have, I don’t know over 700 in the building. Which will be fun and chaotic all at the same time,” said Amy Steenhoek with DMACC. Steenhoek says Monday’s event will be the biggest event in the history of the festival.

Forty-five businesses, organizations, and schools will all pitch in to give these kids a hands-on approach to learning.

Rob Denson, the President of DMACC, serves on different STEM councils both locally and nationally and he knows the key to STEM is getting these kids to think outside of the books.

“They see it in the classroom, they see in a book but if they can come somewhere, like DMACC for this event and see how it’s actually being put into practice,” said Denson. “Then, they can say this makes sense, this is why I need to learn this particular topic.”

Monday night will be filled with fun activities, like playing with robots or building wind turbines but the long term goal is to expose them to career options. Over 60 percent of all future jobs involve STEM skills, making it the fasting growing job field in the state.

“If you have STEM skills, you are at an advantage in the work force to having well paying, high-demand, exciting careers.” said Sarah Derry, STEM Hub Manager.

Research from the Governor’s STEM advisory council, suggests that kids are most likely to lose interest in STEM by the time they hit middle school, so they hope the event Monday will re-ignite that fire for these students.

“They will drag all kinds of pieces and parts together and try to recreate the activities and things they did here at the festival. So, you really see light bulbs come on,” said Henson.