Big Hoopla STEM Challenge combines NCAA Tournament and Science
The Big Hoopla STEM Challenge was hosted on Sunday at the Dayton Convention Center. The event combined the NCAA Basketball Tournament with science to get children interested in the STEM field. There were over 20 exhibitors with interactive exhibits and a high-stakes basketball competition.
The competition was intense. Children were going head-to-head in basketball, frantically shooting baskets. Those who scored the most points were eligible for prizes, such as a Raising Cane’s free meal voucher, a Dayton Dragons hat or shirt, and a NCAA bracket poster.
But the real prize was the chance to compete at UD Arena during halftime at Tuesday’s First Four game in front of thousands of audience members.
When they weren’t competing, kids were learning at interactive exhibits provided by organizations and companies like NASA, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, COSI, and the University of Dayton.
“They come out making different tools, sometimes little robot things, unbelievably creative things,” Sarah Spees, volunteer Director of Big Hoopla, LLC, said. “But it gets the kid’s minds looking into what STEM is and what kinds of opportunities they have as they grow older and decide on what they want to do.”
Speed said that by showing them places like the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, children and their parents can realize that a career in STEM can happen in their own backyards.
James Kenyon, the Director of NASA’s Glenn Research Center, spoke to the kids about this before the day’s events kicked off.
“I would encourage you to look at all the neat stuff that’s going on today, learn, and take advantage of it,” he said, “Because I’ll tell you right now — we need you.”