Sci-Tech Expo brings middle schoolers to UVU

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Students learn STEM in hands-on workshops


Christine Behle | Staff Writer | [email protected]

Photo credit: Ben Hammond | Photographer | @benjiorb


On July 10, UVU hosted a Sci-Tech Expo event for middle school kids in summer prep programs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Students from Weber State University, UVU, and the American Indian Studies from Blanding came together with professionals in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math to learn about these fields in more depth.

The students were scheduled to dissect eyeballs, make spaghetti buildings and map earthquakes.

The keynote speaker for the day was Michael E. Kassner, a director of the Naval Office of Research. He emphasized how the students were at a critical age to be introduced to the STEM fields. He said the exposure makes all the difference on whether or not a student chooses a STEM related career by the time they are college age.

“Washington D.C. is concerned that we won’t have enough STEM careers in the future. These STEM fields are vital for our economic future,” Kassner said.

While the Sci-Tech Expo was the highlight event for UVU PREP, it was just one day of a seven-week course. UVU PREP has about 250 students including 7th, 8th and 9th graders. The program runs six hours a day, Monday through Friday. The students are expected to complete about 30 minutes to an hour worth of homework per class.

According to Ben Farnsworth, a 13-year-old attending the UVU Prep program, “My dad’s taking physics at BYU right now. We’re learning the same thing and will do homework together.”

With the help of the STEM program, Farnsworth has decided that he wants to be a programmer in robotics.

The program is free for those who are accepted. The students are required to submit a teacher’s recommendation, write an essay, and submit their most recent report card. Once accepted, the students attend for three continuing summers, from 6th grade until 9th grade.

Many of the students expressed that it was a teacher who encouraged them to do the PREP program after seeing the student excel in a particular STEM related class. The teacher is expected to fill out a survey rating the student in several areas such as maturity, willingness to work hard and learn new things and punctuality.

According to Robert Valentine, the UVU PREP project coordinator, the program is “the most effective and efficient STEM program in the state.”