32,000 Experience STEM Education at 2010 Imagine RIT Festival

Sharon Deli, left, and Nyesasia Simmons from School 46 in Rochester enjoying the 2010 Imagine RIT Festival.

The campus of the Rochester Institute of Technology was abuzz on Saturday, May 1, 2010 for the school’s 3rd annual Imagine RIT Innovation and Creativity Festival.  Approximately 32,000 people came out to experience hands-on exhibits and presentations all around campus.  

The festival featured twelve zoned areas: Green Place, Technology Quarter, Computer Zone, Innovation Center, Engineering Park, Science Center, Business District, Artistic Alley, The Think Tank, Information Station, RIT Central, and the Field House.  Within each Zone were dozens of displays and 80% of the displays were unique to this year.

But it was not just the influx of new displays that made this Imagine Festival different—this year RIT worked hard to attract more Rochester area K-12 students to the event.  Ned Davis, the festival’s K-12 Educational Outreach Consultant, explained some of the steps RIT took to pitch the festival to a larger, younger audience.  These steps included presentations by Festival staff at monthly Superintendent meetings throughout Monroe County and BOCES, mass mailing of festival materials and posters to all schools in Monroe County, and emails to each school.  Davis guessed the year-long outreach effort pulled in thousands of new K-12 visitors this year.  “We really hoped to light a fire for STEM interested kids,” Davis said, “And to show them the universe of possibilities of science.” 

A large remote control vehicle platform was the favorite exhibit of many young Imagine RIT guests like Brice, of Brockport's Ginther School.

RIT’s K-12 outreach efforts brought fourth grader Nyeasia Simmons and her teacher Sharon Deli to the Festival.  Simmons attends School #46 in the Rochester City School District and heard about the festival from her teachers and administrators.  Simmons, who is part of the Green Team, also saw festival posters up at School #46.  “It is pretty cool,” Simmons said, “I love science and I love being here.” Deli was excited to bring Simmons to RIT, “I knew she would enjoy it and it is a great opportunity,” Deli said. 

K-12 educators pick up their welcome kits and drop off their raffle tickets at Welcome Tent #5. Teachers were able to register on-line before the event for promotional materials and raffle tickets.

The RIT Imagine Festival is also a great opportunity for students who attend RIT.  Jacob Sachs, a first year packaging major, spent the day volunteering at the Camera Obscure Exhibit sponsored by RIT’s special interest Photo House. “I’m having a great time,” Sachs said, “Teaching the magic of photography to kids is great.” Sachs noted the “flooded crowds” around the Camera Obscure Exhibit and said “it is awesome to see kids become fascinated by magical realism.” 

RIT students Jacob Sachs and Maggie Stockman outside of RIT Photo House's Camera Obscure exhbibit at the 2010 Imagine RIT Festival.


The date for the 4th Annual RIT Imagine Festival has already been set for May 7, 2011 so mark your calendars!  If the past three years are any indicator, next year’s Imagine Festival is sure to be even bigger and cognizant of the needs and wants of the Rochester area’s youngest science scholars. RIT is asking for feedback from those who attended this year’s festival. Click here to fill out an online survery about Imagine RIT.

Article and photos by Caurie Miner Putnam – Program Coordinator – Center for Excellence in Math and Science STEM Mentors Program cputnam3@zimbra.naz.edu 

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