By Anna Menendez // Marketing & Communication // 2.27.19
As a Gold sponsor, Charleston Southern University has been very involved in the community’s local STEM festival for the past few years with faculty participation. The Charleston STEM Festival on March 9 will integrate learning between children, teens, families and STEM professionals across a broad celebration of the sciences. With over 80 exhibitors featured, the STEM Festival will include a wide array of live performances and family-oriented activities to exchange, engage and entertain.
CSU has actively participated in the festival for six years with Dr. Justin Grieves serving as Chas the Crab mascot, and Dr. Karen Fonkert serving on the executive, steering and marketing committees to plan and promote the festival. With about 10,000 people in attendance, Dr. Fonkert says it is important for the university to be involved.
“We want to let the public know that we are leaders in STEM education,” Fonkert, professor of mathematics education at CSU, said. “We have many STEM programs here such as engineering, computer science, mathematics, science, and math and science education.”
Her goal is to help cultivate an interest in the math education field for K-12 students, the primary age group during the festival. There has been a shortage of math teachers, and Dr. Fonkert’s personal interest is to produce students who are interested in a STEM career and to get more of them involved in those programs.
Fonkert said, “We hope that they learn that science, technology, engineering and math are fun and engaging fields of study. We aim to get more students interested in pursuing classes, and degrees in those programs."
During the festival, CSU professors will be facilitating a number of interactive activities. “The computer science department is doing Binary Bracelets and Fun with Virtual Reality. The math department is doing Buccaneer Treasure Hunt. The science department is doing Coffee Filter Chromatography,” Fonkert added.
More information about the festival can be found at charlestonstemfest.org.