On Tuesday February 19th, from 6 – 8 p.m., Jefferson Middle School hosted its first science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) Night, with close to 900 people in attendance. The Jefferson Middle School STEM leaders began planning the event in early September and have worked since to build partnerships in the community to create an evening full of hands-on learning. Principal Phil Cox said, “We wanted to open our doors to our students, families, and community to engage in a variety of opportunities to learn.”  The school was packed with over twenty demonstrations led by students, families, and community leaders. Local industry partners who contributed to the event included Rotary Club, Department of Energy, FEW/BIG, UT Knoxville GIS, Games2Go, SECME, Microsoft, ORNL, ORAU, CNS Y-12, East TN Orthodontics, and AMSE.

The intent of this fun-filled event was to teach students and parents about the STEM skills that students will need for future occupations and to share Jefferson’s vision for helping students make connections from the classroom to real world application. Mr. Cox commented, “It was great to see so many students engaged [with] curiosity and wonder all throughout the building.  Participants learned about tools, resources, and strategies to help our students make connections to potential future careers.”

The halls were burgeoning with students and parents working together to fly drones, perform tasks with robots, race C02 cars, and engage in mixed reality virtual experiences. Mr. Layton, Vice Principal at stated, “We wanted this evening to be a showcase of thoughts, ideas, and resources. The potential impact for students is endless.” There were many hands-on STEM exhibits such as a lava lamp design center sponsored by DOE, a demonstration of the states of matter and plasma led by Dr. Biewer of ORNL, and a science lab demonstration with 3D printing taught by staff from CNS Y-12.  Dean of students, Mrs. Laurendine, added, “It was great to be able to connect students and families to resources in our Oak Ridge community.”

The Jefferson staff and student body worked diligently to make this event a success, and have indicated they will carry the momentum from this event forward through the remainder of the school year. Mr. Cox added, “To have close to 50 staff members volunteer their time goes to show why Jefferson is such a special place.” Jefferson has already set the date for their next STEM Night for February 20th, 2020.