KC STEM Fest Showcases the Best of Student Science

Friday, March 31, 2017
Rockhurst students interact with younger students at the KC STEM

With more than 100 projects boasting everything from rockets to robots, Friday’s KC STEM Fest presented the best of some of Kansas City's young scientists, innovators and tinkerers.  

The afternoon of student-generated projects showcased the work of the Frontier School of Innovation in Kansas City, which operates four school campuses serving primarily students in economic need with a particular focus on the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

More than 150 students were able to share their own work with each other, their instructors and the public during the three-plus-hour event at Union Station.

Laura Salem, Ph.D., Rockhurst associate professor and chair of biology, said Rockhurst University served as one of a number of community co-sponsors for the event, and that she and a number of Rockhurst University students and faculty representing a range of STEM-related disciplines from physical therapy and exercise and sport science to physics and mathematics also set up shop. Their projects taught students about concepts from longitudinal waves to the physiology behind stability and balance.

Mary Maxwell, a senior physics of medicine student, said explaining sometimes complex physics concepts can be difficult, but the STEM Fest projects boiled them down and made them accessible.

“If you present it with a Slinky, all of a sudden it’s fun, too,” she said.

The aim of the day, Salem said, was to promote the opportunities and the many paths that STEM disciplines offer.  But she said she also encouraged the Rockhurst students to walk around to the other projects and talk to younger students, because another big aim of the day was to help support the work and effort that went into those projects and presentations and the students behind them.

“When somebody validates your enthusiasm for a particular subject that you’re really interested in,” she said, “that can be a life-changing experience.”