STEM Matters Day at the State Capitol

By January 25, 2018Education, Events

This week over 30 different organizations gathered at the Idaho State Capitol building for the STEM Action Center’s 3rd annual STEM Matters event on January 23rd. The event is a free, hands-on educational day that explores and celebrates innovations in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics learning. Over 500 people including elected officials, STEM experts, educators, students, and the general public took part in the various activities and experiences presented by exhibitors. The IVRC was excited to be involved and had a booth in partnership with Blocksmith Inc.

At the Blocksmith/IVRC booth, we showcased Blocksmith's Builder and XR viewing software. Participants were able to create their own 3D games & experiences with Blocksmith's easy to use drag and drop program. We also provided a VR and AR experience of the International Space Station. Using the HTC Vive and Cardboard VR headsets, participants could experience the sensation of floating outside the ISS while learning about its construction! Blocksmith is a Boise-based startup and their 21st-century approach to education is being rolled out to schools and STEAM camps nationwide. It offers a highly accessible path for students to learn about 3D modeling, animations and programming, before starting with advanced programs like Unity3D and Unreal.

Attendees were also able to see FIRST Robotics teams demonstrating a variety of robots, build BristelBots, experience the technology packed STEMBusUSA, fight off alien creatures in a VR game created by University of Idaho students, see the KBOI drone-powered weather station and many other amazing STEM Activities.  You could hardly make it through the THREE floors of activities that were set up in the rotundas of the Statehouse.  

Lieutenant Governor Brad Little and Senator Bob Nonini spoke to the crowd about the importance of STEM education and encouraged students to keep pursuing STEM based careers!  It was a great reminder how critical our role at the IVRC is to showcase to people of all ages the importance that immersive technology and careers in the field will have in our future.  We look forward to participating in next year’s event!

More about STEM Action Center:
Mission Statement:
Engineering innovative STEM opportunities for educators, students, communities and industry to build a competitive Idaho workforce and economy.

Vision Statement:
Produce a STEM competitive workforce by implementing Idaho’s Kindergarten through Career STEM education programs aligned with industry needs.

During the 2015 Idaho legislative session, a small group of visionary legislators, education leaders and industry stakeholders began a STEM Caucus that led to legislation creating the Idaho STEM Action Center. House Bill 302 became law on July 1, 2015 (Idaho Code §67-823). This new law permits some flexibility in implementation which will allow the Center to develop unique grant, training, professional development and student opportunities aligned to Idaho’s workforce needs from kindergarten through career. Decisions related to the STEM Action Center are guided by a nine member Board appointed by the Governor. The Board is a unique blend of educational leaders from the State Board of Education and the State Department and seven Idaho industry leaders including the Idaho Department of Labor, the Idaho Department of Commerce, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and Micron.

The Idaho STEM Action Center’s enabling legislation focuses on five broad areas:
Student learning and achievement (including underrepresented populations)
Student access to STEM including equity issues
Teacher professional development and opportunities
College and career STEM pathways
Industry and workforce needs

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