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Michigan Tech Hosts STEM Festival & Science Fair

Hundreds of Keweenaw area students visited the campus of Michigan Tech Tuesday as they took part in all sorts of fun and games, and all in the name of “Science.” 

The Western UP Science and Engineering Festival brings elementary and middle school students and their families from many areas to take part in hands-on activities and experiments.

“We also call it the STEM Festival which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. We have 15 different student organizations from Michigan Tech putting on 33 different hands on activities,” said Michigan Tech’s Joan Chadde

The sky is the limit as more than 100 Michigan Tech student volunteers help put the event on that engages young pupils in everything science from underwater robots to sound waves and rocket ships.

“We have some new organizations: the Keweenaw Rocketry Club, Biomedical Engineering is here, the Society of Physics students always come out and they have a lot of fun,” said Chadde.

“What we have here is a metal sheet on top of a speaker and the speaker is hooked up to a frequency generator,” said MTU Physics Student Reed Downs. “At certain frequencies, the waves reflect off of the sides of the metal sheet in various patterns such that it creates lines in the salt where the plate isn’t vibrating and no salt where the plate is vibrating more.”

Some exhibits demonstrate the laws of physics in our daily world. Downs said, “It’s very common seeing it in every day life. Have you ever experienced the phenomenon where when two waves overlap, a bigger wave happens and then they split and go there separate ways? So that’s where that happens.”

Another item from the sea was a demonstration of a chemical reaction that’s used in the food and drug industry that derives from seaweed.

“Sometimes they use it for food. There’s molecular gastronomy which are like really, really fancy restaurants that want to have fun with it. They’ll use alginate as a vessel to carry other things and that’s what drug delivery is also trying to use. They’re trying to use alginate and it’s ability to for these needs to inject drugs or form the beads around the drug, and then you can have a controlled release, said MTU Bio-mechanics Student Ariana Tyo.

Spectators spent three hours touring the exhibits of the STEM Festival in the Memorial Union Building, while participants in the Science Fair anxiously awaited to hear what the judges had to say.

“It’s for K-8 students and their families and they can just go visit table to table. There’s a lot of things that kids can take home. Ice cream phase change is always popular of course because they get to eat it. It’s just a fun place to learn about science and engineering,” said Chadde.

The Western UP Science Fair and STEM Festival is coordinated by the Western UP STEM Network, MTU Center for Science & Environmental Outreach and Omega Chi Epsilon Chemical Engineering Honor Society, and made possible with financial sponsorships from the following Michigan Tech Departments: Dept. of Mathematical Sciences, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics, Dept. of Social Sciences, Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences Institute, Ecosystem Science Center, Great Lakes Research Center, Pavlis Honors College, School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, School of Technology, Sustainable Futures Institute, Transportation Institute.

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