Senior instructor in the Department of Chemistry Margie Haak developed the program, which strives to inspire future generations of doctors, scientists, engineers, mathematicians, physicists and other growing STEM careers. Departments and organizations participate in the event, including Botany & Plant Pathology, Brad's World Reptiles, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Fisheries & Wildlife, Geosciences, Hatfield Marine Center, Microbiology, Nuclear Engineering and Physics.
Students participated in hands-on activities to encourage experiential learning such as examining live specimens and making polymers.
According to a 2013 report commissioned by Microsoft, for many students the decision to study STEM starts long before college. Nearly 78% of STEM college students surveyed said they decided to study STEM in high school or earlier. More than 20% decided to study STEM in middle school or earlier. More than 55% of STEM college students reported that a teacher or class got them interested in STEM before college.
The report noted that this is especially true of female students: 68% vs. 51% OF male students said a teacher or class was the top factor that sparked their interest in STEM. Surprisingly, students said that parents were not the source of their motivation to pursue STEM studies, based on the college student survey findings.
Held for more than 10 years, Discovery Days encourages students to formulate their own questions and ideas about the sciences while cultivating a deeper interest and curiosity to learn more.