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Cathy Taylor
Cathy Taylor
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STEM Interest on the Rise Among High School Students


Kale Rister of Carrier Mills works with classmates to build a bridge during an engineering session of STEM Day at Southeastern.  

As more and more students in the US are encouraged to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), Southeastern Illinois College is joining in with a STEM Day event for high school students.

STEM Day at SIC means fun and interactive classes to get high school students excited about the many career possibilities that await them in these areas.  Each year, the Math and Science division invites area high schools to send junior and senior students who are interested in STEM fields to attend the event.  This year, 124 students from seven high schools attended.

The students pre-register for a series of three sessions presented by faculty from Math and Science, Information Technology and Biofuels.  This year’s event took place on Sept. 28 and included session topics and activities on cancer diagnostics, ecology, microscopic life, neuroanatomy, physics/astronomy, engineering, critical thinking/math, energy and cryptography.


SIC Biology Instructor Jason Fitzgerald provides a fresh antibody supply to Chase Kendall of Galatia to determine the presence of prostate cancer in an experiment provided during STEM Day at the college.

Jason Fitzgerald, biology instructor and division chair of the Math and Science Department, organizes the event and activities each year.  He said that engaging in STEM subjects helps students develop problem-solving, critical thinking and leadership skills.

“Many students don’t realize how much diversity there is in the STEM fields.  During STEM day we try to provide students with a variety of different types of activities within the life sciences, physical sciences, and computer and mathematical sciences in an effort to broaden their exposure to different aspects of STEM,” said Fitzgerald.


Faith Hooper of Eldorado examines the microscopic world of algae during a biology session of STEM Day at SIC.

SIC students also have the opportunity to participate in STEM day by serving as Math & Science Club volunteers to assist the instructors throughout their presentations and activities.

“Not only does it provide excellent teamwork skills for the students, it helps the high school students make the connection with the types of things they could be doing as a student at SIC,” said Fitzgerald.

Careers in STEM fields continue to remain in high demand, and since few people are qualified to apply for the positions, the jobs often pay well.  According to STEM Jobs, some of the most in-demand fields are petroleum engineering, process engineering, and computer engineering.

For more information regarding STEM programs and STEM Day at SIC, contact Fitzgerald at 252-5400 ext. 2229 or[email protected].