The annual University of Arizona Health Sciences event that teaches kids the wonders of science, technology, engineering, math and medicine (STEM) has been reinvented for a virtual audience this year.
Connect2STEM, organized by the College of Medicine – Phoenix, is COVID-19 friendly, featuring livestreamed events every Saturday throughout the month of February. The virtual series designed for kids and families offers activities led by physicians, performers and STEM professionals.
On January 30, the 2021 Connect2STEM event also kicked off Arizona’s 10th annual SciTech Festival, a two-month campaign in February and March that promotes STEM events across the state
Preparing tomorrow’s leaders in STEM
“The future will present new challenges that require inquisitive minds to solve,” said Guy Reed, MD, MS, dean of the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. “Through Connect2STEM, we hope to inspire the next generation of creative thinkers, skilled innovators and compassionate leaders to pursue careers in STEM.”
Introducing the youth of Arizona to the vast opportunities STEM offers is important not only to their futures, but to the growth of communities in Arizona.
“Connect2STEM is focused on exploration and innovation as we inspire our future STEM professionals. We are very proud to partner with Connect2STEM for the seventh year in a row; we have been here since day one,” said Susan Anable, vice president of public affairs at Cox Communications.
“Arizona’s future depends on a highly-trained workforce – particularly in the areas of advanced medical technology, research and related STEM fields – and the SciTech Festival delivers on that vision,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “I am particularly grateful to the University of Arizona and Phoenix Biomedical Campus for organizing this year’s event and for engaging young minds during this challenging time.”
This year’s kickoff event opened with a special dedication honoring all essential workers during the pandemic. It also featured a special visit to the Wildcat Play Hospital; an opportunity to scrub-in with a world-renowned neurosurgeon; an experience treating a pediatric simulation patient, “Hal,” who helps train future doctors; a tutorial on how to TikTok your way to a STEM career with Cox Communications; as well as energetic performances from the Be Kind Crew and the Arizona School for the Arts.
In the coming weeks, new events will enable a continued virtual experience, including Connect2STEM LIVE TV, a new series offering free online programming every Saturday in February featuring faculty, staff and students from all five University of Arizona Health Sciences colleges.
Dynamic STEM modules will offer youth of all ages the opportunity to discover STEM careers and activities. Regents Professor Allan Hamilton, MD, FACS, a world-renowned neurosurgeon and executive director of the Arizona Simulation Technology Education Center, hosted an introduction to medicine during the kickoff event, with even more opportunities to introduce children to medicine planned throughout the month.
The annual Connect2STEM event has welcomed more than 40,000 children and families to the University of Arizona’s downtown Phoenix campus over the past six years. It is typically a one-day, in-person event, though safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 led to the change in the event format this year.