Iron Range Science & Engineering Festival

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11th Annual Iron Range Science & Engineering Festival

About the festival: 

This popular festival is entirely donor funded and volunteer operated, and without the generous support of community partners, would not be possible. Donations cover all costs from busing to lunches and presenters to ensure that participating schools have no out-of-pocket cost to attend.

Thank you to these festival sponsors: 

The goal of the Iron Range Science & Engineering Festival is to reinvigorate interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (S.T.E.M. subjects) by creating exciting and educational hands-on learning experiences for 7th grade students across the northland!

This festival is a satellite event of the National Science and Engineering Festival in Washington D.C., with numerous communities around the nation holding similar programs. The Minnesota Discovery Center has proudly served as the host site for this event for the past 11 years. 

Overview of the Event:  Over three days, the festival will host more than 1,100 7th grade students from a 11 schools from across the northland. During that time, students will engage in S.T.E.M. reltated presentations and activities that aim to inspire and encourage students to consider S.T.E.M. related career fields. Students will also have the opportunity to engage with some of the brightest people working in these fields. By creating an exciting and educational event, students will see the many opportunities existing in the S.T.E.M. world right her in northern Minnesota.

The need for the Event: The Iron Range Science and Engineering Board's Community Planning Team views this event as both an educational experience and as a workforce development initiative. Currently, the region faces a shortage of skilled workers in STEM areas. After consulting with high school and higher education professionals, the team chose 7th students as the target audience for the Iron Range Science and Engineering Festival. Educators identified that age group as the "lost group" when considering the STEM subjects. Elementary classrooms often incorporate hands-on activities for students, and high schools can offer electives and clubs that focus on STEM subjects. In contrast, there is a lack of focus on these subjects for junior high school students, and there is concern that they may lose interest in the S.T.E.M. fields if they are not adequately engaged.

The Value and Benefits of the Event: Now on its 11th year, the Iron Range Science and Engineering Festival has grown into a signature educational S.T.E.M. event in our region. Feedback from previous years has been extremely positive, and generally the event becomes fully booked after just one notification e-mail to teachers and schools. After the event, we request evaluations from participating teachers. The evaluations are reviewed with our planning committee at a post-event meeting, and recommendations are noted for implementation the following year. We retain only the programs that have positive feedback. The Iron Range Science and Engineering Board believes they have created an event of lasting value, and teachers are eager to have their students participate. 

Some of this year’s demonstrators include:

The Iron Range Science and Engineering Community Planning Team includes: Julie Marinucci, Range Engineering Council; Tom Jamar, Range Engineering Council; Will Saice, Minnesota Power; Randy Lampton, Northeast Minnesota Office of Job Training; Moe Benda, University of Minnesota Duluth; Shelly Sallee, IRRR; Heath Boe, Advanced Minnesota; Bart Johnson, ICC Engineering; Mara Brownlee and Jordan Metsa, Minnesota Discovery Center.