Rockford touts tech talents at STEM Showcase

Rockford Middle School-Center for Environmental Studies recently hosted its fifth annual STEM Showcase. Here, student Kat Lemmage uses everyday items like baking soda in an experiment.
Rockford Middle School-Center for Environmental Studies recently hosted its fifth annual STEM Showcase. Here, student Kat Lemmage uses everyday items like baking soda in an experiment.

Rockford Middle School-Center for Environmental Studies recently hosted its fifth annual STEM Showcase.

This night offered students, parents, and community members to interact with our school partners, view student work, and celebrate the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) experience.

This year’s event featured 15 school partners and community groups in the school gymnasium, music from the eighth grade band, engineering games hosted by WEB students, and the opportunity to make bath products from the “Little Luxuries” exploratory, taught by art teacher Sarah Gunderson.

Visitors to the showcase had the opportunity to interact with other exploratory classes as well, examining worms and composting courtesy of Betsy Pennuto’s class and making observations in a mock crime scene set up by Jennifer Piehl. There were also many items to purchase that had been created by students during exploratory, including greeting cards from Bonnie Wilts’ photography class.

Student Robbie Ferdig tests reflex principles during this experiment at Rockford’s fifth annual STEM Showcase.
Student Robbie Ferdig tests reflex principles during this experiment at Rockford’s fifth annual STEM Showcase.

There were many activities and interesting things to see and do when visiting school and community partners in the gym. Families had the chance to see a raptor and view the labs that seventh grade students work on with the University of Minnesota Raptor Center. They had the opportunity to feel animal pelts and learn more about the local Three Rivers Park System with naturalist Chad Hollinbeck. They could view plans from the city of Rockford and learn about the ways Dan Madsen, Rockford City Administrator, is making improvements to the town.

Rockford Middle School students, left to right, Anna and Grace Feyen, Alex Nixon, Anna Tellock, and Trista Bartik mix colorful ingredients during their experiment.
Rockford Middle School students, left to right, Anna and Grace Feyen, Alex Nixon, Anna Tellock, and Trista Bartik mix colorful ingredients during their experiment.

There was also the opportunity to take a selfie with the school mascot, Rockee, or purchase Rockford spirit wear.

In addition to all of the activities going on inside the building, the new school concessions trailer hosted a fundraiser for the middle school Future Farmers of America (FFA) program. Students in FFA worked with their advisor, Jackie Barker, to promote the experience as well as to inform the public about the mission of the organization. Students created a prize wheel with trivia, and also hosted yard games for people to play as they enjoyed their dinner outside on a beautiful fall night. Ian Mercil, a seventh grade student who recently joined FFA, said “Everyone keeps telling me how great these jackets look and how impressed they are with our middle school FFA program.”

Student McKenna Evans conducts a science experiment during Rockford Middle School’s annual STEM Showcase.
Student McKenna Evans conducts a science experiment during Rockford Middle School’s annual STEM Showcase.