STEM in the Park offers interactive fun for families

STEM in the Park, a free family day of hands-on fun at Bowling Green State University, will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 24) at the Perry Field House, with plenty of free parking available.

STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in the Park will feature interactive displays and activities created by community partners, local businesses and area universities to engage children of all ages in the STEM fields. Over 140 unique hands-on STEM activity stations will be offered at the event that individuals and families can enjoy.  

This event allows participants to make ice cream, dabble in robotics, launch pop rockets, pet lizards and much more. Everyone who attends the event will receive an event map, take-home free STEM materials and activity ideas, and a complimentary catered lunch. 

Back by popular demand is the "Science of Sports" zone, which displays activity stations that examine how fast participants can run, how high participants can jump and how far participants can throw a ball. New this year will be a golf simulator where participants can take part in the longest drive contest.

A “Roots to STEM Pre K-2” zone also returns this year, which features activities that cater specifically to younger children. 

The STEM Stage once again will feature super-sized demonstrations from Imagination Station and the Soar & Explore Bird Show presented by the Toledo Zoo.

Also new this year will be the H2O Zone, where visitors can explore the science behind all of water's amazing uses; the Food Science Zone for budding food technologists; and the Digital Arts Animation Station for getting immersed in the world of virtual reality.

Food for Thought, a local agency that provides food assistance to the greater Toledo area, is bringing a mobile pantry to this year's Food Science Zone in an effort to squash hunger. Participants can donate a food item or basic household/personal care as part of the campaign. All donations will stay in the Bowling Green area and be given to the Cocoon Shelter. 

Activity Station hosts include BGSU’s Marine Lab and Herpetarium, Verizon, Toledo Botanical Garden, Challenger Learning Center of Lake Erie West, Nature’s Nursery, Ohio Northern University Engineering, Wood County Hospital, plus more than 80 other institutions and organizations. 

Last year’s event drew more than 4,300 people from northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. 

STEM in the Park is the brainchild of Drs. Emilio and Lena Duran, both faculty members in BGSU’s College of Education and Human Development. Inspired by Literacy in the Park, an on-campus spring event that brings families in for a variety of literacy-boosting activities, STEM in the Park seeks to increase public engagement in the STEM disciplines.  

According to Jenna Pollock, education program manager, “The Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education at BGSU (NWO) is committed to increasing attendance among low-income and at-risk children. For the fourth consecutive year we are able to provide transportation for families from several school districts in urban and low-income neighborhoods.” 

NWO organizes the free event on campus for the entire northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan community. NWO is a partnership among a number of area universities, K-12 schools and community partners who all come together at this event to showcase innovation and educational opportunities and promote positive attitudes toward STEM teaching and learning.  

STEM in the Park's Presenting Sponsors for 2016 are Bowling Green State University, BP, First Solar, Lubrizol, PPG and Verizon. 

Community Sponsors include Carolina Biological, Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education, Perrysburg Rotary Club, SSOE, Thayer Family Dealerships and The Andersons.

AT&T, Biggby, BG Community Foundation, Bostdorff’s, Environmental Water Engineering, Master Chemical, Tony Packo’s  and Walmart are General Sponsors.

More information and event pre-registration can be found at the STEM in the Park website.