Photo Gallery | RCCC STEM open house a success
CONCORD - Rowan-Cabarrus Community College was proud to host its first annual STEM Open House at the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) last month.
“The STEM Open House was a true celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “One of my goals since coming to Rowan-Cabarrus is to increase the breadth and depth of our STEM education. I fully believe that everyone can be interested in STEM – and that it’s critical that we embrace these subjects. America used to be the leader in technology and innovation. It’s time for us to reclaim that role.”
Between 400 and 500 members of the community visited the STEM Open House. The STEM Open House was a fun, interactive event for the community showcasing the college’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs.
The college had dozens of interactive exhibits for kids and adults of all ages to dazzle the senses and stir curiosity for all things STEM. Attendees were able to perform DNA extraction in the college’s science labs, engage in activities involving video games, and even learn how STEM plays a role in fighting fires.
“Almost everything we do in life has STEM applications, but not everyone realizes it,” said Dr. Marcy Corjay, dean of the college’s science, biotechnology, mathematics and information technologies. “STEM subjects are very concrete. Science deals with our natural and physical world. Technology has given us the iPads, smart phones, and computers we use every single day. Engineering is all about building things. Mathematics ranges from financial decisions to gaming strategies, such as playing pool or engaging in games of logic.”
The exhibits were extremely diverse – everything from the complexity of balancing pH in dyeing hair to the chemistry of making ice cream and how to develop videogames to race car engineering.
The target audience for this open house was broader than traditional open houses hosted by the college. In addition to driving more traditional-aged prospective students, the college aspired to host younger children (elementary and middle school aged) with their parents. Surrounding K-12 schools, homeschool students and families were in attendance.
The day following the STEM Open House event, President Spalding was invited to Raleigh to speak about the college’s STEM programs at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ grand opening event of the Nature Research Center. Among renowned scientists and guests such as Jane Goodall, President Spalding spoke to the 50,000+ attendees of the Nature Research Center’s “24 hours of Science” kickoff event.
President Spalding spoke to the college’s role on the North Carolina Research Campus and the dedication to retraining dislocated workers, specifically with respect to the biotechnology program.
“Among the victories of the biotechnology program, the most exciting to me is that we’ve taken a highly quantitative program and successfully trained students who may have never thought they were even good at science,” said Spalding. “For example, we have graduates of our program that came to us unprepared for college-level math. Traditionally, in NC, only 50 percent of students who come to college in what we call developmental or remedial math classes actually complete the program.”
“In our original graduating class in 2011, 71 percent of the biotechnology graduates began in developmental math! This is an especially high accomplishment in a highly quantitative field like biotechnology. To have developmental math students demonstrate this level of success is rare and something we’re extremely proud of,” said Spalding.
For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, please visit www.rccc.edu.