Colorado expects to see a 20% growth rate in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) occupations through 2015, according to the Colorado Workforce Development Council. The University of Colorado Denver recognizes that a powerful way to develop the state’s workforce is to start early—through engaging the imaginations of students of all ages in math, the sciences, and in future careers in STEM fields.
Through its signature event, University of Colorado Denver STEMapalooza , the university is able to provide a venue that attracted almost 10,000 visitors in 2009. On day one, more than 7,000 people came, which exceeded the total tally of both days of the 2008 launch year.
The free two-day event provides an opportunity for students, parents, and teachers to dive into hands-on, “minds-on” activities that included robotics, gaming, rocketry, staging and film production. For businesses and organizations, STEMapalooza also provides an ideal setting for industry leaders to network, engage policy-makers in discussion, and learn more about the latest STEM initiatives throughout Colorado.
Keynote speaker at STEMapalooza 2009, Colonel Fred Gregory, former NASA Astronaut and Administrator, stated, “Science, technology, engineering and math are the core strength of the United States. If you want to see progress in your kids, you need to provide them with an incentive—beyond passing a test—something that they can go out and feel, touch and experience.”
With sponsors such as Lockheed Martin and United Launch Alliance and other exhibitors such as National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, students, parents and teachers are able to gain a broader—and more fun perspective—on STEM activities. The range of exhibits connect to multiple STEM areas: aerospace, health care, environmental science and sustainability, technology, engineering and arts and entertainment.
“As a national issue, we need a quarter of a million public health workers by 2020, so we’re excited to educate K-12 kids about careers in health care through events such as STEMapalooza”, said Lyndsey Crum, Director of Communications for the Colorado School of Public Health.
Matt Smith, Vice President of United Launch Alliance, said that half of the scientists in his company will be retiring in 10 years, and what’s needed is a new generation of kids with an interest in STEM.
“STEMapalooza is a great way for students, parents and teachers to learn more and to become STEM advocates,” said Gary Barbosa, Director of Human Resources, Lockheed Martin. “Our company was a sponsor of the first STEMapalooza last year, and is again this year because we’re committed to the community, to STEM education, and to the development of the talent pipeline in Colorado.”