Celebrating STEM education at the McCall Outdoor Science School. Photo by McCall Web Design.

Celebrating a Decade of STEM Education

By Sue McMurray

The slice of an oar through water, exploding rockets and the voices of excited kids – all were common sounds at the McCall Outdoor Science School's 10-year birthday bash at the McCall Field Campus on Friday, Aug. 5. The collaborative event celebrated MOSS' success in providing a decade of transformational, outdoor learning experiences for youth across Idaho, as well as valuable teaching experience for graduate students.

Spearheaded by CNR, the celebration coincided with the University of Idaho Foundation Board meeting and kicked off with a VIP reception for more than 100 guests on Thursday evening at Ponderosa State Park. The party continued Friday at the McCall Field Campus and showcased how the university's science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education initiative is being implemented throughout Idaho. STEM is part of a national effort to ensure that all American students receive the skills and knowledge required for success in the 21st century workforce.

University leaders, McCall citizens, donors, alumni and other special guests engaged in family-friendly STEM activities throughout the day, beginning with scenic tours of Payette Lake in the morning. Later in the day, several colleges offered workshops for 68 children to actively participate in activities focused on natural disasters, climate science, engineering and rocketry principles and use of scientific instruments.

"Many sectors of Idaho's economy, such as agriculture, manufacturing and health care services, require STEM-educated employees," said Jack McIver, vice president for research and economic development. "This event introduced children to STEM through hands-on activities that may lead them to make future education and career choices in science and engineering that could benefit Idaho or world in the future."

A barbecue dinner and live music led up to a short program with remarks by Steve Johnson, director of alumni relations, Kurt Pregitzer, CNR dean; Steve Hollenhorst, associate dean for outreach and director of MOSS; and [former] President Nellis.

"The McCall Outdoor Science School is a perfect example of how CNR has been implementing STEM education into a curriculum based in the outdoors for 10 years," said Pregitzer. "Science, technology, engineering and math are necessary components for our next generation of leaders to be successful in college readiness and workforce preparation. Many STEM educated graduates will remain in Idaho, armed with the knowledge and expertise to benefit the economic and educational capacities of this great state, as well as its agricultural and natural resources."