DALLAS, Pa. — Penn State Wilkes-Barre, Penn State Hazleton and Penn State Scranton came together for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders’ STEM School Days at PNC Field. The events were held on May 11 and May 24, allowing hundreds of elementary, middle and high school students to attend from a variety of school districts throughout northeastern Pennsylvania.
“Penn State’s presence in northeastern Pennsylvania, with three local campuses represented, reminds people that Penn State is everywhere,” said Leslie Livingstone, assistant director of admissions at Penn State Wilkes-Barre. “It also shows younger students that, in addition to being a great place to attend, Penn State supports them in academics and offers a variety of STEM-based programs.”
STEM School Days was designed with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as art — making the acronym STEAM — education and activities. A variety of local organizations involved in STEM and STEAM education, including the Penn State campuses, are invited to attend and host a display table on the concourse of the stadium. This year, the Penn State campuses offered literature on academic programs and academic camps at the campuses, as well as promotional items such as drinking cups and Nittany Lion paw print items. The Nittany Lion mascot was on hand to meet students, sign autographs and throw out the first pitch of the game.
“Everyone absolutely loved the mascot," Livingstone said. "We toured the entire stadium and students and adults wanted their photograph with the Nittany Lion. Many students asked the Nittany Lion for an autograph. And anything from a sneaker, hat, T-shirt, cellphone case, baseball or even a student’s arm, Nittany signed it all.”
One of the highlights of STEM day is the trebuchet challenge, where teams design a catapult to throw a baseball across the field. The teams that launch the baseball the farthest receive prizes.
“This was a wonderful community event with dozens of local organizations and community partners,” Livingstone. “It also provided an excellent opportunity for students to experience a baseball game on a sunny and warm day. For some of these students, it was their first time enjoying a baseball game.”