STEAM Festival immerses area in science, technology

Kelly NorrellNortheast Knox

The Muse Knoxville has helped launch more than 30 science and technology-themed interactive events across East Tennessee Oct. 12-22, as part of the first ever Tennessee STEAM Festival. Similar events will be underway in Memphis and Nashville.

Goal of the statewide festival, which Elli Kittrell helped plan, is to immerse residents of every age in STEAM — science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics.

“This concept of bringing STEAM to life and showing its importance in our daily lives, for all ages, is our guiding mission,” said Kittrell, executive director of Muse Knoxville. She is a member of a statewide planning group that included children’s museum directors, businesses and universities across Tennessee.

Events taking place in East Tennessee include Monarch butterfly tagging in Kodak and Cades Cove, computer programming in Maryville and Bioenergy Day at the UT Arboretum. Click here for a full listing of events.

Some local highlights include:

  • STEAM in the City in Market Square 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14. Presented by TVA, this kickoff event will feature robotics competitions with Knoxville Makers, a global cardboard construction challenge sponsored by Lowe’s, and amazing wonders demonstrated by science buskers, such as thermochromic (heat sensitive and color changing) slime and ice cream made with liquid nitrogen. Free.
    discussing magnets

    In the Extreme Science expo of the ORNL Traveling Science Fair Oct. 17, students will learn about magnets and nanomaterials.  (Photo courtesy of ORNL)

  • ORNL Traveling Science Fair on Tuesday, Oct. 17. at Chilhowee Park, 3301 Magnolia Ave., near the Jacob Building, 2:30-4:30 p.m. Six carnival-style trailers will present expos on different areas of research at ORNL and tips on future job opportunities. Expo topics include: the subatomic world of neutrons, “extreme science” involving physics, chemistry and materials science, nuclear energy and supercomputers. Free.
  • Way Late Play Date: Marvel vs. DC Comics, 7-10 p.m. Oct. 20 at Shulz Brau Brewing Company, 126 Bernard Ave. A comic book-themed event for adults 21 and older, this event costs $20 and features a costume contest, a magic show, demos on the gadgetry and science of comic books … and three six-ounce brewery samples.
  • STEAM Carnival Family Fun Day at The Muse Knoxville, 516 N Beaman St., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 21. Free admission with playtime in all Muse exhibits, including the popular STEM exhibit and the Makerspace; Planetarium shows ($2 each), interactive booths, live music by Chibi Kodoma and CJ Lucas, magic show.
    Wind tunnel

    At Family Fun Day at the Muse Oct. 21, children can play in the Muse exhibits for free. Elli Kittrell watches as Audrey Sylvester, 2, sends colored scarves up a wind tunnel.

“The intention is to help all ages understand the importance of learning. It should never stop. If I am excited about learning and model that to my children, they are more likely to approach it with an open heart and open mind,” Kittrell said.

Nancy Laurence, Muse education director, said, “If you put things together and take things apart as a child, you have a base to build on. By interacting with real materials and real science, you become not so afraid of failing.”

Info: 865-594-1494.


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