By Melissa Schill, News Reporter
Wheaton College hosted a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) visit day on Thursday, Sept. 26 and Friday, Sept. 27 to give prospective students a closer look at the STEM departments. Students attended STEM classes, stayed overnight with STEM students, toured the Meyer Science Center, listened to panels and attended an interactive open house.
“When prospective students [visit Wheaton], they try to visualize themselves being here, and sometimes that can be really difficult,” Secondary Science Education Coordinator Betsy Leong said. “[The STEM visit day] is really trying to remove that barrier.”
According to Leong, the goal of the open house was to introduce students to the various departments and give them a glimpse of what each department has to offer. Each STEM department planned various activities for students to take part in and let them test some of their equipment. The applied health sciences department opened up their ultrasound and stress test machines for students to use. The geology department allowed visitors to experiment with their augmented reality sandbox, which uses a projector to map out topography.
“When you come on a campus tour, you don’t really see anything. You don’t see the labs, you don’t see the research facilities, you don’t learn about any of the student research that’s been done … it’s really limited. We wanted to give some space to help students learn more about this,” Leong said.
Leong worked with the admissions department to coordinate the STEM visit day. Chief Enrollment Management Officer Silvio Vazquez pitched the idea last year along with former Dean of Natural Sciences Dorothy Chappell. STEM faculty and students also helped plan the events.
Junior applied math major Nathan Varberg joined senior chemistry major Yoon Cho and alumnae Jessica Nilsen (‘16) and Sara Reiskytl (‘16) on a panel to answer questions from prospective students and their families. “I think it’s great that Wheaton’s trying to promote that we have solid STEM programs and a solid STEM degree,” Varberg said. “I think it’s a price issue for a lot of students whether they come to Wheaton or go somewhere else, so it is good to show students that [Wheaton] has value.”
There were 27 students registered for the STEM visit day. Because it was a pilot event, the school monitored its success and took notes for more program-specific visit days that will likely be held by other departments in the future.