Learning Can Be Fun – My Experience With S.T.E.A.M

By Patricia Polanco

S.T.E.A.M Saturday was created in an effort to enhance middle school education in science, technology, engineering, art and math. This year, it was held March 17 in the Hudson Auditorium, with over 80 middle schoolers in attendance.

S.T.E.A.M Saturday transpired from a research project that I conducted in my investigation reporting class, where I chose to research why there aren’t more women in the S.T.E.A.M fields. During my investigation, I had the opportunity to meet Education Professor Dr. Frances Spielhagen.

I explained to her how significant this topic was to me, and to my surprise she told me that she always wanted to do an event on S.T.E.A.M, but had other events on her plate and would not be able to do it alone. I quickly agreed to collaborate with her, and thus S.T.E.A.M Saturday was born.

I started on public relations right away, making brochures and flyers, contacting catering and marketing, and conducting weekly meetings to organize everything – as well as shadowing Spielhagen throughout the process.

Planning an event is not an easy task to take on, but I was up for the challenge, and it resulted in a great learning experience. I had to meet weekly deadlines and update Spielhagen on the progress of any tasks she assigned – great experience for anyone going into public relations. We also had the amazing help of Jill Oldenburg, a grad student at the Mount, and Rachel Collymore, undergrad.

On the day of the event we had 11 different workshops that were taught by students, professors and faculty at the Mount. As a bonus, we had MAD Science, a science-education organization, come and present to all the middle schoolers.

Spielhagen reached out to many students and professors to teach different workshops, and made sure they were all going to be fun and intriguing for the middle schoolers. The workshops included:

  • All About Robotics
  • DaVinci’s Flying Machine
  • DNA: Your Invisible fingerprint
  • The Dragons Den: A Dungeons and Dragons Experience
  • Exercise is Medicine: Find Your Fitness
  • Fingerprinting Uniquely You!
  • Proportional Polymers
  • The Incredible Journey

I remember one middle schooler excitedly ask his friend, “Did you go to The Incredible Journey? You need to go, it was amazing!” Hearing him say that almost brought tears to my eyes, knowing that this event affected him in such a positive way.