How often do students have the opportunity to dissect a real brain, play with robots, and ride a hovercraft all in the span of a few hours? For the third year, the Wellesley STEM Expo will present over 100 exhibits that allow students to do all that and more.
On April 8, Wellesley Education Foundation will host the day long STEM Expo at the high school. Along with the exhibits and workshops, the Expo will feature keynote speaker Edmund Bertschinger, a Professor of Physics at MIT. The Expo will also host a panel of STEM professionals to answer students questions on college and future careers.
Katey Goehringer has organized the STEM Expo since its first year in 2013. Before that, elementary schools would host various science nights across town, but that idea has now turned into the townwide Expo at the high school.
Goehringer said, “At [the elementary schools] there were maybe 25 things to do, but at the town wide level we have more than 100 different exhibits. In terms of popularity, we had around 3000 people attend the first year and the second year we had 4000.”
Goehringer, like many other Wellesley parents, believes the STEM subjects are important and hopes that the hands on application of the fields will spark kids interest in learning.
“We are so fortunate to live in this area where there are so many universities and companies doing groundbreaking research in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields. We try to have lots of diversity in the activities to give people options. This year we even have a science of food area for kids who like to eat!” said Goehringer.
Marc Tetel, a Professor of Neuroscience at Wellesley College, is one of the many scientists presenting at the Expo. He joined the Expo for a number of reasons, but has continued to return every year because he truly has fun.
“I just love being able to share my fascination with the brain, and I love being to do it with elementary to high school students. I think that people in general are born with interest in science. Sometimes that gets worked out of people, but when you’re in elementary, middle, and high school, lots of people still have that fascination,” said Tetel.
A few of Tetel’s students will accompany him at the Expo, which allows his station to include more brain related activities at once.
“We’ll have a dissection of a real sheep brain, look at brain cells under a microscope, and view sections of a real human brain that have been embedded in plastic,” Tetel says.
Martin Chiu, who works at the Waltham based tech company, Raytheon, will also present. Raytheon is a large supplier of weapons and electronics for U.S. military defense. Chiu himself is a System Test Verification Director, which means he works with satellite communications to ensure American Military Forces can complete their missions.
“I am an excellent story teller, so I will use video clips, posters & models to further illustrate what we engineers do,” Chiu said.
Chiu also has presented at every Expo. His reasoning for returning is the same as Tetel’s.
“I enjoy teaching younger generation STEM subjects. It is fun, and sometimes I learn from them too,” Chiu says.
In addition to these returning exhibitors, there will be a handful of new ones at the Expo.
“A UMass Amherst Robotics professor is bringing a 300 pound humanoid robot. You can control it with a virtual reality headset. There will also be a photo kiosk from NASA where you can pick different places in space to take a picture with,” Goehringer said.
WHS student Prachi Kelkar ’20 has attended the two past STEM expos and plans to attend this year.
“I’m looking forward to see the exhibits because the stem expo always has multiple interesting experiments in which people can be exposed to different fields of science,” Kelkar said.
In his final remarks, Tetel said, “I think it is a wonderful event. [The Expo] one of the best things about being in the town of Wellesley. It is great that [we] celebrate science in this way. It’s such a great event and they do such a great job!”