Over 6,000 Middle School Students Expected for STEM Festival

Houston+area+sixth+graders+attend+last+year%E2%80%99s+Mind+Trekkers%3A+Adventures+in+Stem%2C+where+they+are+fascinated+by+experiments+and+demonstrations+known+as+STEMonstrations.+++

Andrea Vasquez/San Jacinto College

Houston area sixth graders attend last year’s Mind Trekkers: Adventures in Stem, where they are fascinated by experiments and demonstrations known as STEMonstrations.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields offer students promising career opportunities while providing the Houston area with an avenue for economic sustainability, but the educators of San Jacinto College know that the key to attracting students to STEM areas is sparking interest at an early age. In response, San Jac organizes an annual two-day festival, Mind Trekkers: Adventures in STEM, aimed at engaging young minds.

Now in its sixth year, the event gathers over six thousand Houston-area sixth graders on the Central Campus, where they participate in a wide range of STEM experiments and demonstrations, known as “STEMonstrations.” A few of the advertised activities include shooting ping-pong balls through a soda can, making ice cream in 60 seconds, and suspending a magnet in mid-air.

Yessenia Jimenez, Manager of Strategic Initiative Projects, summarizes the event’s objective into four words, “Spark interest. Plant seeds.” 

“We hope to get the community more excited about STEM,” she added. 

However, Mind Trekkers is not just for sixth graders. In the evening hours of March 5, Mind Trekkers hosts a two-hour “Family Night,” open to the public, for all ages interested in STEM.

The festival is a large-scale event requiring more than 500 volunteers from across the College and from multiple departments. However, Jimenez noted, recruiting enough help is, at times, “challenging.” 

“We need volunteers who can help us lead experiments and help out with logistics,” she said. “This event can only happen with support from students, faculty, and staff.”

In addition to the College community, Jimenez pointed to local industry partners that “graciously support” Mind Trekkers, including founding partner DOW, Chevron Phillips, INEOS, LyondellBasell, the East Harris County Manufacturing Association and this year’s newest addition, Acadian EMS. 

Ultimately, she noted, the festival points young people in the direction of STEM education, which is critical to the region’s major industries.

Jimenez concluded, “… we want to help impact students’ interest in the STEM fields, which, as we know, are vital areas of our economic sustainability.” 

MindTrekkers: Adventures in STEM Family Night takes place from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. March 5 in and around Anders Gymnasium (C18) on the Central Campus.