Building stronger community in STEM

By Rachel Davis, Hawkeye Staff

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The STEM department hosted STEM Game Night on Oct. 17 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in its lab, carpentry room and the classrooms of engineering teachers James Wilson and Bryan Smelcer. The event was coordinated and directed by junior Jonas Rivera and was run specifically for students in the STEM program to come together and have a fun night meeting other people, testing their skills and playing a variety of games. The event offered Mario Kart Wii, Super Smash Bros, Wii Sports, virtual reality experiences and a party game called Jackbox.
STEM director Wilson and the other members of the STEM board suggest that STEM is not merely a program, but a community. The primary goal of the program is to encourage students to pursue careers in technology, science, engineering and mathematics, but it is also to encourage teamwork and involvement in the STEM community. Lifelong friends can be made in the program, and the directors want to give the students more opportunities to meet new people.
That is why Rivera, the lead director of the STEM Game Night committee, has been organizing these events since his freshman year. He was asked to plan an event that had to do with gaming, and that would attract interested students. His job was to plan an event that did not happen as often as a club and was a bigger event than a regular club meeting.
“In my freshmen year, 20 people attended the first STEM Game Night,” Rivera said.
Rivera continued organizing this event multiple times a year, and in his sophomore year, the participation rate increased from 20 to 50 people.
“I liked the community coming together to share a common interest,” Rivera said. “[We are] bringing the community together by games.”
The event itself was organized in two main sections: a free play section where anyone can play anything non-competitively and a tournament section where the games are played competitively. Rivera explained that these two sections were made because some people are very passionate about gaming and want to display their skills while others just want to casually play for fun.
This year, 121 students RSVP’d for the event, making it the biggest STEM Game Night in Rivera’s leadership career. The night was full of gaming, screaming about K.O.’s and a large amount of pizza.
The students themselves had fun at the event. Sophomore Anabelle Decoret went to the event to play in the Wii Sports tournament and the Mario Kart tournament and also to enjoy the VR experiences.
“It was fun to see everyone gather and enjoy themselves playing at a school event. I’m proud of how far Jonas has brought this event,” Decoret said.

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