Science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM for short, is happening all around us, all the time, without most people ever realising. Young people use technology daily, and Tauranga is a hub for STEM, whether it’s engineering innovators tucked away in pockets around the city, marine scientists out on the moana or educators at the University of Waikato.
Tauranga STEM Festival (STEMFest) is a hands-on, learn-by-doing festival that celebrates discovering things you didn’t know before. Explained to be an event where you will learn something new and develop a curiosity about STEM. A Kaupapa of STEM Wana Trust, a registered charity, STEMFest is in its third year and returns bigger and better than before.
Tia Lush and her team of wonderful collaborators of passionate volunteers, parents, and people within the STEM industry established this event in 2019. As the event is driven by people within the STEM community and industry itself, they are leaders in STEM and care about what happens in the future. They are passionate about giving others, especially young people, the opportunity to experience STEM and develop a passion for it.
As an event that positively impacts the community by connecting and building relationships, Founder and Creative Director, Tia Lush says that someone will attend STEMFest and discover they love robotics and then tap into a robotics class, the clubs and initiatives that are already out there, and continue their journey.
“We know that for many young people, STEM can be quite scary and daunting. Often also being an area they don’t want to say they’re interested in due to negative stereotypes. But when you dig deeper, you will see that many people are already Scientists, Technologists and Explorers,” says Tia.
“If you love playing with LEGO, you use engineering skills to develop shapes and projects. Our message to young people is STEM is for everyone, and you’re already doing it, you just don’t realise you are.”
Tauranga STEM Festival was designed for families as an event for all ages. Aimed to make a programme of activities for toddlers, teenagers, parents, and grandparents so there is something for everyone. The event offers opportunities to meet STEM heroes and learn how to use your skills and interests to solve problems through each programme within the festival. Focused on making connections between the public, providers and community leaders, Tauranga STEM Festival aims to create a spark and allow opportunities to grow and extend beyond a one-day activation.
Local Tauranga Western Bay Community Event Fund (TWBCEF) is a partnership between Acorn Foundation, BayTrust, TECT, Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council designed to simplify applying for community event funding. The Fund recently approved a grant of $40,000 to support the delivery of this event.
Nelita Byrne, Venues and Events Manager at Tauranga City Council, says this event provides opportunities for people of all ages to seize the chance to experience various aspects of STEM and see what interests them.
“Not only is this a great event to have fun experiencing STEM and learning new things. With the University of Waikato being involved and their science lab on our doorstep, as well as STEM professionals, it is a chance for people to see a pathway from STEM play and learning, to studies and academic life, through to working in the industry and having a wonderful career,” says Nelita.
Tauranga STEM Festival is returning on Sunday 1st October 2023 and is free to attend. However, tickets are required to enter and usually sell out! Join in on this popular event with thousands of locals and visitors to see a showcase of STEM in our region and the innovation happening in New Zealand. Tickets are available via www.stemfest.nz.