STEM University Provides Local Scouts with Day of Fun, Hands-On Activities

“The best part of these events is seeing the bright smile that forms on a Scout’s face when they learn something new or enjoy a silly joke you just shared with them – it is almost magical, and definitely contagious!”

Those are the words of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville senior Seth Kannarr, speaking about the third annual STEM University SIUE held on Saturday, Nov. 2, in partnership with the Greater St. Louis Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Kannarr was one of four SIUE students who served as counselors at this year’s event, helping boys and girls from across the region earn merit badges and STEM Nova awards on topics ranging from weather to archaeology to programming.

More than 200 Scouts in second through 12th grade visited SIUE’s campus for this year’s STEM University SIUE, which was hosted by the SIUE STEM Center, the SIUE Departments of Chemistry and Biological Sciences, the SIUE Chemistry Club and several outside organizations. The full-day event gave attendees an opportunity to work with experts in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), including SIUE faculty and current SIUE students, while completing fun, hands-on activities.

“STEM University SIUE is particularly fun for a few reasons,” said SIUE senior Emily Lange, a lifelong Girl Scout who volunteered at the event. “For starters, I love being able to promote STEM and scientific literacy in a fun and engaging way – it really helps our participants connect with the material. I am also particularly passionate about what I teach – archaeology – and really love being able to design and plan every aspect of my curriculum.”

BSA partners with several universities in the St. Louis region to host STEM University events throughout the school year. SIUE has hosted the event for the past three years to provide local children and teenagers with an engaging day of learning while also giving them a firsthand look into life on a college campus. The Scouts have the opportunity to make connections with SIUE students and faculty and explore the state-of-the-art facilities available at SIUE.

“The Greater St. Louis Area Council, BSA has been recognized nationally for its leadership in STEM programs, and STEM University SIUE is a great example of a successful partnership between university and Scouting volunteers,” said SIUE Chemistry Professor Eric Voss, PhD, who coordinated this year’s event. “Our goal is to inspire the youth in our region to explore STEM-related fields.”

From building and racing model sailboats to touring the SIUE wind tunnel, this year’s STEM University SIUE had something for everyone. The Scouts who attended are likely to not only remember the fun activities and the merit badges they earned, but also the positive experiences they had on SIUE’s campus.

“When a Scout approaches late high school and is looking into post-secondary education options, they may remember their time visiting SIUE and how much they enjoyed the campus and their time here,” added Kannarr. “This is also beneficial for the Scout, because it may be their only contact with any college campus and may shape their idea of what going to college would look like.”

Photo: SIUE junior Colin Boysen (right) helps a Scout build a model rocket for the Space Exploration merit badge at STEM University SIUE.


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