Subjects come to life!

stem 3
Knowledge and passion circulate at the STEM Conference
Katie Hunckler
Staff Writer

Passion oozed from presenters like lava from a volcano during SC4’s third annual STEM Conference; it was as if they just couldn’t hold back their excitement about their topics any longer, so it all burst out in one grand event! This passion had a contagious flare, and it would have been a challenge for any attendee to leave the conference without catching it.
STEM is a grouping of subjects – specifically Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – aimed at appreciating and improving the world in which we live. The STEM Conference therefore had the purpose of educating and exciting people of all ages about STEM-related topics.
Events kicked off Friday evening, Oct. 23, with a presentation by keynote speaker Neils Johnson, Symantec Technology Evangelist. The conference continued Saturday morning with a series of hands-on workshops for all ages.
Professionals and enthusiasts from around the community gave 45 minute presentations about their field of expertise. Mark Priess, Global Security Manager at a manufacturing company, gave a presentation entitled “Cyber Security: Why Hackers are Winning the Cyber ‘War,’” which included live demonstrations of how easy it is for hackers to infiltrate a computer while disguising themselves. (In a matter of seconds, Priess changed his IP address to make it look like he was in Sweden!)
In addition to helping people protect themselves on the internet, Priess indicated that he participated in the STEM Conference because he wanted to talk to and encourage kids to enter the field of Information Technology (IT). “If you’re good at that, you can work for companies all over the world,” he concluded.
Other presenters simply wanted to inform their audiences about important issues of today. Elaine Bailey, Consultant with Michigan Antibiotic Resistance Reduction Coalition (MARR), explained her reason for participating, “Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent issues of our time, and we need to get the message out!”
Although activities were widely available for all age groups, kids appeared to have the most abundant platter from which to choose. There were miniature drones, popsicle stick architectural challenges, iPads, Legos, fun math activities, and much more that they could do. “It challenges your brain,” said Casie Paul, 12, of Marysville, referring to the math activities. It seems that quote could apply to all the other activities as well.
SC4 Student Ambassadors Lydia Palmateer and Breanne Gotham noted the high level of excitement they saw in the young children who passed by them. “There’s a lot of little kids, and it’s very educational,” said Gotham.
Some kids even took on the role of presenter themselves. The Marysville Middle School Robotics Team infiltrated the lobby of the CEM building with their robot demonstrations; it was a challenging feat to dodge the zippy machines while traveling from one side of the lobby to the other. “Last year was the first year ever that they had a robotics team; they did like tremendously well last year,” said Andrea Paul, teacher at Marysville Middle School. According to Paul, the team did so well that they traveled all the way to Iowa for competition.
All in all, the third annual STEM Conference involved a lot of contagious excitement and passion that showed itself in presentations and activities. Student Ambassador Olivia Kelley summed it up, “It gives a lot of information in a short period of time on a diversity of subjects.” What more could one ask for?

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