Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions:
Q: What happens at TechFest?
TechFest is a Technology Festival. Similar to any of the community festivals or carnivals, there are many things happening at the same time. You can visit any booth in any order. There are performances on a stage that you may need to interrupt your visits to booths to "see the show." TechFest has three primary features in this festival atmosphere.
The foundation of TechFest is the "midway" of hands-on and interactive "exhibits" or demonstrations. TechFest 2014 had 78 of these exhibits. The TechFest participant/guest selects a specific exhibit that focuses on one or two topics from one of the broad topics of science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) (or a closely related subject). The "guest" is encouraged to engage with hands-on activity to experience the chosen activity, principal, or phenomena central to the exhibit. Usually following a brief explanation, the "exhibitor," who is a person who works in the field, interacts on a personal basis with questions or answers in a conversational way. See the list of exhibitors to review the many choices that you will have.
A second feature of TechFest includes a program of speakers that focuses on a portion of any of the STEM topics. Each speaker program is approximately 45 minutes including the Q&A discussions. The presentations are both informative as well as entertaining, thus are called "info-tainment." In reality, the speakers have a range of presentation styles. TechFest 2014 had 18 speakers to deliver 45 "shows." See the schedule of presentations to select which you wish to see.
The third feature of TechFest is the Teachers Workshops or “in-services” on teaching methods for a variety of STEM topics. Typically, there are eight sessions on Saturday only. These workshops are for teachers only and require preregistration. For an example of typical subjects covered, see the Teachers’ workshop flyer on the web site for this year’s listing of topics. These are popular with teachers. The TechFest 2014 workshops, as well as the waiting lists, filled to capacity more than a week prior to registrations closing.
Q: How is the best way to get the most from TechFest?
Arrive early in the day and plan to spend most of the day at TechFest. Use this unusual experience to explore. Prioritize your time.
- Try to limit your time at each exhibit so you can explore many topics. You can return later for a fresh perspective or go into more depth. Write down a contact for later follow-up.
- Use your time wisely between exhibits and presentations.
- Select topics you know little about or the ones you do not think you would be interested.
- Ask many questions of the exhibitor. How does it do that? Why is it important? What is your day job? Do you like your job? What did you study to prepare you for your job? This will broaden your experience and you might discover something new as well as discover something about yourself.
- Start thinking about how the subject you just learned about is used outside the schoolroom.
- Since there is no admission, you could spend parts of both days at TechFest.
- If you have another activity commitment, break away and return to TechFest.
- Over 75% of the guests at TechFest spend more than three hours.
Q: Who should attend TechFest?
TechFest is for anyone who is curious about science, technology, engineering, or mathematics—now referred to as STEM. Curiosity may include: Why do I have to study this in school? How does that really work? Where is it used in the real world?
Families (meaning youth K-12 and their parents, guardians, or mentor such as guardian, grandparent, aunt or uncle, scout leader, and so forth) should attend TechFest. The “family” can discuss why something is important, or have fun discovering something they did not know, or finding something they want to know more about, or discuss what is or is not happening in school.
Q: What ages should attend?
As a whole, TechFest is for youth in grades K-12, however all ages are welcome. It somewhat depends upon the individual. Experience shows the most of the youth are in grades 4-9. Some younger youth are “really into it”. Some older youth really enjoy getting their hands on things that previously they were only able to talk about or watch.
Q: What is the purpose of TechFest?
The primary purpose is for TechFest to be a motivating experience to study science and math in your normal “school” environment.
A broader purpose is to be a career exploration experience. TechFest brings you in contact with professional people who are working or have worked in a wide variety of jobs and careers based in STEM. You can get a glimpse of what a career in a specific field may have to offer.
An even broader purpose relates to the one above. The U.S.A. is lagging behind the rest of the world in high school scores in science and math and the number of students entering school to study science and engineering. And the number of graduates qualified to work in the fields that depend upon science, technology, engineering and math skills is dropping. TechFest addresses the very first phase of work force development—cultivating an interest.
If one can find a passion early, the path to realizing fulfillment can be achieved earlier and cheaper rather than longer and more expensive.
Q: I do not want to be an engineer or a scientist, why should I attend?
Science and technology surrounds us and all that we do. Quality of life improves with an understanding of our environment. Second, one does not know what future jobs and careers will require a range of skills in STEM. One needs to build a sound foundation to be prepared and flexible in qualifying for higher education and ultimately jobs.
Q: I am not interested in science, technology, engineering, or math, why should I attend?
See the above. In particular, the science and math standards are set to measure proficiency and qualification for graduation. If you do not do well in these topics, the likely hood of future employment and good jobs is small. TechFest will not teach these things; however, you may discover why it is important for doing other things, thus you may become motivated to study in class. Why cut yourself off from a good life before you even start.
Q: What is the cost to go to TechFest?
TechFest is FREE to all participants. There are no charges for admission, shows, or parking.
Q: Who pays the expenses?
Affiliate Societies Council, Inc. (ASC) pays the expenses for TechFest. The ASC is an IRS Tax Exempt non-profit charitable corporation in the State of Ohio. The ASC, in turn, is dependent upon contributions and donations from individuals, corporations and foundations (ASC stakeholders) for funding TechFest.
Q: Who does TechFest?
The TechFest Program Team of the Affiliate Societies Council recruits TechFest “exhibitors” from: ASC member societies, other professional societies, academic departments from local colleges and universities (Sinclair Community College, University of Dayton, Wright State University, Air Force Institute of Technology, Central State University, and others), local STEM employers such as Wright-Patterson AFB, and permanent venue STEM based parks and museums, interested individuals, and organizations with niche STEM capabilities.
Local talent and referred speakers with niche topics are recruited and selected for presentations to round out the program.
The Educators’ Action Team of the Wright Memorial Chapter of the Air Force Association organizes the teachers’ workshops. TechFest is one of the collateral venues for these workshops on topics congruent with Ohio Academic Standards in the STEM area. Wright State University supports these workshops by providing CEU’s at no cost to all participating educators.
Q: Why does the Affiliate Societies Council sponsor TechFest?
ASC member societies have a shared interest in youth outreach and career exploration. TechFest is a venue where individual interests of each society can be promoted while simultaneously meeting collective goals for the benefit of the community. The TechFest formula was widely embraced by the ASC membership.
Q: If there is no admission, why do we need to register?
The TechFest Program Committee needs certain data in order to make decisions on the program and to demonstrate performance to its stakeholders. Registration is the means that TechFest uses to collect the minimum amount of information to meet its needs.
Q: What makes TechFest different?
The intent of TechFest is to motivate youth to study STEM topics is the normal study setting-public, parochial, charter or home school. TechFest is a Greater Dayton/Miami Valley program. TechFest is not limited to a single school, a single school district, a county, a conference, or a tax jurisdiction. TechFest in not an individual contest, is not a competition between schools, is not intended to take the place of a teaching experience, and youth are not expected to entertain adults. TechFest is not a fundraiser and does not make any money. TechFest is FREE family fun.
Q: How long has it been going on?
The first TechFest in its present model was held in February 2003 as an Engineers and Scientists Week Celebration. It was initiated as a special celebration of the centennial anniversary of powered flight by the Wright Brothers of Dayton. Its roots are in the Career Exploration weekend held by the ASC at Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. At that time, there were approximately 15 exhibitors and 150 students. The Engineering and Science Foundation funded the first four years of TechFest. In 2015, we will celebrate our 13th anniversary.
Q: Who comes to TechFest?
As a family oriented program, TechFest is for youth. Thus, only youth are registered. Since 2003, over 20,000 youth have registered their attendance. Youth come from public parochial, private, charter and home school environments. Attendees come from 19 Ohio Counties and 8 other states (Michigan, Kentucky, California, Illinois, New York, Tennessee, Indiana). The participation numbers need to be factored to consider accompanying adults, accompanying youth who do not register, and those who bypass registration.
Q: How do you select exhibitors?
Exhibitors must have hands-on, interactive demonstrations in at least one STEM topic. The exhibit must be attended and no commercial transactions are permitted. Exhibitors are solicited based upon previous participation or known capability. Registration is conducted on the ASC web site.
Q: How do you select speakers?
Speakers and presenters must have content in at least one STEM topic. The presentation must be age appropriate and no commercial message. Speakers are solicited based upon previous participation, known capability and the needs of TechFest for a balanced program. Commitments are negotiated by a subcommittee of the TechFest program team.
Q: Why is TechFest held at Sinclair?
TechFest requires a portfolio of capability, capacity, environment, parking, accessibility, affordability, and location near city bus transportation. Sinclair Community College meets these criteria.
Q: What other things does TechFest do?
TechFest is not a stand alone organization. TechFest is one of the major annual programs of the Affiliate Societies Council (ASC). During a typical TechFest weekend, 780 volunteers deliver 3,450 hours for its success. Other current programs by the ASC for youth career exploration and promotion of STEM and career exploration are Honor Seminars and support of Science Days by volunteers. The ASC sponsors awards for the Outstanding Student and Teacher for Montgomery County Science Fair. Other programs carried out by the ASC include the Outstanding Engineers and Scientists Awards and Professional Development series. See www.ascdayton.org.
Q: Is there anything besides TechFest where someone can learn about STEM outside of the classroom?
Outside the classroom, activities are available to enhance and extend knowledge of STEM. Space is too limited to provide all details but one can explore: Science Day, Destination Imagination, FIRST Lego League, Science Olympiad, 4-H, Boy Scout Merit Badges, Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, Kids & Chemistry, The Intel International Science And Engineering Fair (INTEL ISEF), Internet Science And Technology Fair, Teams (Tests Of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics And Science) NEAS+ (National Engineering Aptitude Search), Contests (Math, Chemistry, Chess, etc.). Many of these require adult sponsors or mentors. Check with a local school curriculum coordinator, science or math teacher.
Q: How can I help?
Volunteer for the TechFest Program Team to assist planning and coordination, Serve on the TechFest Grants and Fund Raising Committee, Serve as a TechFest Program Champion to promote TechFest within your home school District, Serve on the event support staff, solicit door prizes, or make a tax deductable charitable donation. Email the Volunteer Coordinator for more information.
Q: What is science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)
From Mcgraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Science & Technology, copyright, 1984 by Mcgraw-Hill, Inc.:
- Science. In common usage the word science is applied to a variety of disciplines or intellectual activities which have certain features in common. Usually a science is characterized by the possibility of making precise statements which are susceptible of some sort of check or proof. This often implies that the situations with which the special science is concerned can be made to recur in order to submit themselves to check, although this is by no means always the case. There are observational sciences such as astronomy or geology in which repetition of a situation at will is intrinsically impossible, and the possible precision is limited to precision of description. A common method of classifying sciences is to refer to them as either exact sciences or descriptive sciences. Examples of the latter, taxonomical botany or zoology. The exact sciences are in general characterized by the possibility of exact measurement. One of the most important tasks of a descriptive science is to develop a method of description or classification. Careers in science are typically research or teaching in the fields such as chemistry, physics, zoology, botany, astronomy, geology, and agriculture to list a few. Others may include computer science.
- Technology. Systematic knowledge and action, usually of industrial processes but applicable to any recurrent activity. Technology is closely related to science and to engineering. Science deals with humans' understanding of the real world about them-the inherent properties of space, matter, energy, and their interactions. Engineering is the application of objective knowledge to the creation of plans, designs, and means for achieving desired objectives. Technology deals with the tools and techniques for carrying out the plans. Careers in technology are closely related to all the fields of science and engineering. The applications include careers such as research and test technicians, manufacturing, maintenance, quality control, and service.
- Engineering. Most simply, the art of directing the great sources of power in nature for the use and the convenience of people. In its modern form engineering involves people, money, materials, machines, and energy. It is differentiated from science because it is primarily concerned with how to direct to useful and economical ends the natural phenomena which scientists discover and formulate into acceptable theories. Engineering therefore requires above all the creative imagination to innovate useful applications of natural phenomena. It seeks newer, cheaper, better means of using natural sources of energy and materials. The typical modern engineer goes through several phases of career activity. Formal education must be broad and deep in the former are physics and, to a lesser degree, chemistry; and the sciences and humanities. Then comes an increasing degree of specialization in the intricacies of a particular discipline, also involving continued post-scholastic education. Normal promotion thus brings interdisciplinary activity as the engineer supervises a variety of specialists that will permit precision of reference to the subject matter. Finally, the engineer enters into the management function, weaving people, money, materials, machines, and energy sources into completed processes for the use of society. Careers in engineering include but are not limited to Aeronautical or Astronautical Engineering, Chemical Engineering; Civil Engineering; Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering; Industrial Engineering; Manufacturing Engineering; Marine Engineering; Mechanical Engineering; Methods Engineering; Mining; and Nuclear Engineering.
- Mathematics (wikipedia) is the study of quantity, structure, space, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns, formulate new conjectures, and establish truth by rigorous deduction from appropriately chosen axioms and definitions.
There is debate over whether mathematical objects such as numbers and points exist naturally or are human creations. The mathematician Benjamin Peirce called mathematics "the science that draws necessary conclusions"Albert Einstein, on the other hand, stated that "as far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."
Through the use of abstraction and logical reasoning, mathematics evolved from counting, calculation, measurement, and the systematic study of the shapes and motions of physical objects. Practical mathematics has been a human activity for as far back as written records exist. Rigorous arguments first appeared in Greek mathematics, most notably in Euclid's Elements. Mathematics continued to develop, for example in China in 300 BCE, in India in 100 CE, and in Arabia in 800 CE, until the Renaissance, when mathematical innovations interacting with new scientific discoveries led to a rapid increase in the rate of mathematical discovery that continues to the present day.
Mathematics is used throughout the world as an essential tool in many fields, including natural science, engineering, medicine, and the social sciences. Applied mathematics, the branch of mathematics concerned with application of mathematical knowledge to other fields, inspires and makes use of new mathematical discoveries and sometimes leads to the development of entirely new mathematical disciplines, such as statistics and game theory. Mathematicians also engage in pure mathematics, or mathematics for its own sake, without having any application in mind, although practical applications for what began as pure mathematics are often discovered.