How MTSU helped bring Tennessee STEAM Festival science to life

Oct 13, 2020 at 10:00 am by Voice Wire

Tennessee STEAM Festival
Students can learn how to play musical instruments during the fourth annual Tennessee STEAM Festival now through Oct. 18. MTSU faculty and staff are involved in six of the events this year. (Submitted photo by Tennessee STEAM Festival)

MTSU is helping science, technology, engineering, art and math, or STEAM, come to life at more than 100 events and activities across the state during the fourth annual Tennessee STEAM Festival, taking place now through Oct. 18 all across Tennessee.

The festival was founded by the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring and incorporates outdoor and virtual events hosted by a wide range of museums, schools, community centers and other attractions. A complete listing of activities is available at

To watch video of MTSU senior Concrete Industry Management student Autumn Gates helping promote the festival, go HERE.

MTSU faculty and staff have a hand in six of the festival events, most of which had a virtual presence because of COVID-19 precautions. 

Four remaining MTSU-led activities include:

  • 1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13 — "Mythbusting: Creativity Edition," from MTSU and the Rutherford Arts Alliance, led by Lando Carter, assistant professor in the Education Assessment Learning and School Improvement unit. Quick peek: Creativity is for all of us. Creativity takes time and tinkering. Learn the truth about creativity. 
  • 3 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14 — "Bridges, Roads, Buildings and Pumpkins, from the MTSU School of Concrete and Construction Management and virtually, led by professor Heather Brown. Quick peek: Find out about new technology and materials being used in today's construction … and make a concrete pumpkin for your Halloween décor.
  • 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16 — "STEAM @ Home," virtually from MTeach at MTSU, led by instructor Robin Bollman. Quick peek: Parents and children combine science, math and art in fun, interactive at-home activities.
  • Noon Sunday, Oct. 18 — "The Look of Things Unseen: A Trans-Atlantic Visual Discussion About Submicroscopic Killers with Martin Kemp," virtually from the Nashville Section of the American Chemical Society. Quick peek: How do scientists describe things that cannot be seen? Kemp, emeritus research professor in the history of art at Oxford University and world authority on imagery in art and science from the Renaissance to present day, will discuss the significance of things seen and unseen with molecular modeling expert and MTSU chemistry professor Preston MacDougall.

Biology professor Kim Sadler led "What's That Tree?" — a tour of the university's arboretum virtually on Friday, Oct. 9, and in-person at your own leisure, checking out MTSU's more than 100 species of trees and shrubs on the 500-acre campus. Three trails guide participants to 30-plus species of mostly native Tennessee trees. Copies of the tree guide are available in the Science Building atrium and Cope Administration Building.

On Monday, Oct. 9, Mandy Singleton of the Tennessee STEM Education Center led a "Scavenger Hunt for all ages." To obtain guides for pre-K through high school, call 615-904-8573. 

This year's festival's honorary chair is Dr. William Schaffner, epidemiologist at Vanderbilt University. He is often seen on local and national news programs talking about public health issues such as pandemics and the coronavirus.

"The Tennessee STEAM Festival will look a little different this year in order to accommodate social distancing, but it still offers Tennesseans fun ways to engage with science, technology, engineering, art and math," said Discovery Center CEO Tara MacDougall. "The festival is focused on promoting lifelong learning and on helping everyone better understand the world around them.

"We appreciate all of our sponsors, hosts and partners who have taken a new approach to the festival this year, especially during a challenging time. As always, the festival wouldn't be possible without them," MacDougall said.


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