Radford University Carilion Welcomes Nearly 600 Students and U.S. Rep. Ben Cline to Campus for STEAM Day 2019
Nearly 600 students from Roanoke-area schools visited the Radford University Carilion (RUC) campus on Nov. 8, 2019, as part of Roanoke’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Day. Approximately 1,900 total students were in Roanoke for the activity.
STEAM Day is an annual large-scale, highly-visible, interactive event that provides opportunities for engagement between children and teens and those who work in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics and healthcare. The event features hands-on exhibits, interactive demonstrations and family-oriented science entertainment, all free of charge for private, public and homeschool students.
STEAM Day activities were held at four locations in downtown Roanoke, including RUC, the Science Museum of Western Virginia, the Taubman Museum of Art and the Virginia Museum of Transportation. Each site had activities targeted to specific age groups with something for students to use in every step of their academic careers. The participating organizations support STEAM education throughout the year, and this day allows students to experience hands-on STEAM education in higher education and museum settings.
“It is so important for schoolchildren to get this experience with healthcare careers and to see what we do to take care of patients every day,” said Cathy Jennings, D.N.P., chair of the STEAM Day Planning Committee and Carilion Clinic cardiac surgery clinical nurse specialist. “This is a really exciting time, and our staff waits all year to participate in this event.”
The students visiting RUC had the opportunity to participate in five activities:
- “Inside the O.R.,” where they had the chance to don surgical scrubs and perform mock surgeries;
- “Outside the O.R.,” where they learned about surgical instruments and techniques;
- “The Lab Experience,” where they learned about anatomy, physiology and what types of research are done in healthcare laboratories;
- “The Respiratory Therapy Experience,” where they heard about the duties of respiratory therapists and saw a display of lung tissue X-rays and a real healthy lung compared to smoker’s lung; and
- “The Emergency Experience,” where they learned about how patients are cared for in critical care situations and practiced their "stop the bleed" technique on mock wounds by applying a tourniquet to slow bleeding.
In addition to the students, RUC welcomed U.S. Rep. Ben Cline to campus. Cline toured the RUC campus as the students participated in activities and joined them in the Inside the O.R. and in The Lab Experience. He also received hands-on education in how to apply a tourniquet to slow bleeding in The Emergency Experience.
The collaborative 2019 event is the third annual STEAM Day of its kind held in Roanoke, but the origins of the event date back as far as 2011. That year, the Virginia Museum of Transportation hosted a STEM EXPO with Virginia Tech for local students (the “A” for arts was added in 2014, and STEM was changed to STEAM). The Transportation Museum would continue to host STEAM Day events on its own for the next few years.
In 2014, the Science Museum of Western Virginia received a matching grant for $10,000 to host the Virginia Science Festival for students and families, which begins the involvement of the four organizations that currently host Roanoke STEAM Day at each of their locations. In addition to these four organizations, Virginia Tech also participated in the day with exhibits.
In 2015, there was no grant money, but the four participating organizations decided to continue the event annually as the Roanoke Science Festival. In 2017, the name was changed to STEAM Day. This year, the event was held on National STEAM Day with the largest participation of students to date.
STEAM Day is one of two large free events held at RUC during the year for local students. The other event is the annual Senses and ScienceAbility Festival, which will take place on March 23, 2020. Similar to STEAM Day, the upcoming event gives children of all ages and adults the chance to experience the world of science and art through interactive experiments, activities and presentations. More information about this event will be shared soon.