Summer fun included science, engineering and technology for hundreds of New Mexico students, who gathered at the University of New Mexico over the weekend for the UNM Health Sciences Center's inaugural STEAM-H Career Exploration Extravaganza.
STEAM-H – short for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math and Health – drew more than 1,000 students, from fifth graders to college freshmen, who participated in activities focused on science, engineering and technology. The event was free, with UNM and its partners providing food, lodging and transportation from locations throughout the state.
"How many of you think this is fun?" HSC Executive Vice Chancellor Richard Larson, MD, PhD, asked a ballroom full of cheering STEAM-H students. "It fun. It's fascinating, and it's awesome. I hope a lot of you choose careers in science or health care, and that we get so see you back here in a few years."
Activities on UNM's North and Main campuses included simulation-based training on full-body mannequins and disaster preparedness experiences, as well as hot air ballooning, drone helicopters and robotics. Students from across the state also heard from motivational speakers and artists, including an energized dance performance from Boss Crew.
“This program represents the UNM Health Sciences Center’s long-term commitment to developing the capabilities and education for all the students in our state,” Larson said. “We are proud to host this statewide event that will improve our connection with all students and encourage them into health care careers.”
Coordinated by the HSC's Office for Diversity, this year’s STEAM-H event included partners Sandia National Laboratories, TriCore Laboratories, Air Force Research Laboratories, Raytheon, Explora Museum and RoboRave International. Partners engaged participants through hands-on learning and stimulating play activities to enrich their opportunities for identifying potential career pathways as scientists and health professionals.
Teachers, community-based educators, parents and other adults also participated in a STEAM-H Community Learning Academy, an all-day program for K-12 educators, who are working to create new or advance existing STEAM-H programming through community assets and collaborations. The Community Learning Academy ultimately will forge regional hubs and networks for early and continuous high-quality exposure to STEM and health professions careers. The academy is supported by Dr. Tryphenia Peele-Eady, UNM College of Education Multicultural Educational Center director.
“In order to empower New Mexico youth to pursue these careers we must first provide them with an opportunity to gain the tools and competence for doing so,” said Brian Gibbs, PhD, an associate professor in the UNM School of Medicine's Department of Family and Community Medicine, and the HSC's associate vice chancellor for diversity and cultural competence. “This is especially important for students who live in rural settings across the state who may not have access to the engagement of science communities that urban centers and large institutions have to offer.”