Appalachian hosts STEM Expo


Joshua Farmer

Graduate student Brayam Pinilla demonstrates his robotic arm to a middle school student during the Science Discovery Day at Holmes Convocation Center. The event, held in correlation with the North Carolina Science Festival, aimed to promote the fun and occupational practicality of science and math to young students.  Nicole Debartolo  |  The Appalachian
To further promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to middle school and high school students, Appalachian State University hosted its third annual STEM expo Wednesday at Holmes Convocation Center.

Tonya Coffey designed the event in 2010 in correlation with the North Carolina Science Festival. Its intent is to exhibit the fun and occupational practicality of science and math to young scholars.

As well as being the founder, Coffey is a co-coordinator for the event and an associate professor in the physics and astronomy department. This year’s expo accommodated around 1,700 young students, 600 more than last year, Coffey said.

“We had participation this year from over a dozen different academic departments and from groups external to the university, specifically the Grandfather Mountain Science Outreach folks,” Coffey said.

There were also many hands-on activities, demo shows and tours, Coffey said.

“Everybody worked really hard to make this day happen, and their efforts really paid off,” she said. “The kids enjoyed it, and hopefully learned a little science, too. Many kids also got campus tours, so we got to show off our beautiful campus.”

Tracey Tardiff is a co-coordinator for the STEM expo, as well as the pre-enrollment coordinator for the North Carolina Appalachian Collaborative for Higher Education.

“We were really excited that so many students from our county and surrounding counties were able to join us for this event,” Tardiff said. “I think this is a great opportunity for us all to share what we are doing at Appalachian and it’s really nice to feel so supported in our efforts. Particularly in terms of science and research, we have a lot to be proud of.”

Graduate student John Spiegel said science and math are important because it’s the future.

“You always need engineers, you always need scientists, physicists, mathematicians, chemists, biologists, just to advance the fields,” he said.

Jane McLaughlin, a senior computer information systems major, represented her department by setting up a booth and speaking with on looking students.

“I’ve gotten a lot of really good questions about what it’s like to go to college and about the kinds of things I do in my job, so I can definitely tell they are really excited,” McLaughlin said. “As I’m about to graduate, I’m really proud of myself and proud of the students around me for what I study, and where I study, and that’s why I’m here today. I wanted to be able to show younger students how proud of themselves they can be one day.”

Story: JORDAN MILLER, Intern News Reporter

Photo: NICOLE DEBARTOLO, Intern Photographer