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Kids of all ages discover opportunities through STEM festivals

Date: Tuesday, March 28, 2023

"viking pump"The UNI-Dome at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls was abuzz last week with nearly 1,650 students, family members and educators taking part in the first Cedar Valley Family STEM Festival since 2018.

With over 60 exhibitors from Iowa businesses and local community partners, this spring festival marked the return of fun, hands-on activities in emerging areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Participants of all ages engaged in various activities from different STEM career fields like medical, agriculture, archeology, computer science, architecture, animal science, skilled trades, engineering, law enforcement, virtual reality and more.

“Our goal with the Cedar Valley Family STEM Festival is to promote, inspire and engage youth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics opportunities and to introduce youth and their parents to STEM careers,” said Jeff Beneke, Northeast regional STEM manager for the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. “Kids may not know the opportunities that are available in their own backyards. Through events like this, kids of all ages can get excited about STEM careers in their community and throughout Iowa.”

The Cedar Valley Family STEM Festival provided hands-on STEM activities for students and their families to engage with businesses and community organizations to have a better understanding of career paths.

“There is something sweet about STEM festivals,” said Lindy Ibeling, communications manager for the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. “There’s so much excitement and opportunity in one room for kids elementary through high school to explore a wide range of career choices.”

Along with students, local educators also benefited from the lively STEM festival.

“Educators love this event,” Beneke said. “They can take ideas from the festival and use them in their learning environments. They can also cultivate new contacts for class speakers and other STEM projects at the festival.”

The Cedar Valley Family STEM Festival is a community-wide partnership led by the Northeast Region of the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council, at the University of Northern Iowa, in partnership with Cedar Falls Community School District, Waterloo Community Schools, Central Rivers Area Education Agency, Hawkeye Community College, John Deere, University of Northern Iowa STEM and Volunteer Center of the Cedar Valley.

Regional STEM festivals are scheduled throughout the year. For more information on regional STEM festivals and other upcoming events, visit the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council webpage.