Discovery Festival introduces science careers

Joshua Kellogg

FARMINGTON — The organizers of this year’s Discovery Festival hope to build upon the foundation of last year’s inaugural event to get children excited about career possibilities in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

The second annual Discovery Festival will take place at the McGee Park Convention Center Friday and Saturday, where more than 40 booths will provide activities for children of all ages to learn about local career opportunities in STEM.

Elita Schoser, 8, left, Evan Frantz, 10, and Sherrie Peterson, all from the Boys & Girls Clubs, glue popsicle sticks together to make a tower Dec. 6, 2014, during the Discovery Festival at the McGee Park Convention Center.

Christine Garcia, chief executive officer of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of San Juan County, said about 2,500 children attended last year's event, and she expects this year’s turnout to increase.

“To have an event like this in our community that is educational and can get kids excited about learning, it’s really inspiring,” Garcia said.

More than 1,700 students are expected to attend on Friday, and the event is open to the public on Saturday.

The event consists of booths operated by companies, organizations and educational institutes that engage children with activities that demonstrate how subjects like science and math factor into their profession.

A booth last year featured a Tesla coil to produce music, while another booth offered children a chance to make a hoverboard using a leaf blower and household items.

A booth operated by Diamond Derrick Consulting led children through the steps of making a rocket out of drinking straws. Garcia said volunteers helped participating children build a rocket. After testing its performance, the volunteers worked with the students on fine tuning elements to help it perform better.

“(The children) learned about engineering and math,” Garcia said. “They had a blast.”

Sam Schoser, of Bloomfield, volunteers at the Boys & Girls Clubs table Dec. 6, 2014, during the Discovery Festival at the McGee Park Convention Center.

The San Juan College Career Center will have a booth to advise students in middle and high school on what courses they could enroll in to get a head start on pursuing a career in the STEM areas.

The event also acts as a fundraiser to pay for two $1,000 scholarships awarded to a high school junior and senior who attend the festival, and help fund a mentoring program to match volunteers with children interested in a STEM career field.

Krista McWilliams, head chair of the event, said she enjoyed seeing children introduced to local professions as they discover new areas of interest.

“This event is primarily for exposing students to possible careers in the STEM field,” McWilliams said. “For me, that is really fulfilling.”

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

If you go: 

What: Second annual Discovery Festival 
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: McGee Park Convention Center, 41 County Road 5568
Admission: Free
More info: Visit the Discovery Festival Facebook page