The second-annual STEM festival for Silicon Valley’s youth was held on April 29 at Redwood City’s Courthouse Square, sponsored by the Redwood City Library Foundation. This year, the festival upgraded its name to STEAM, adding the letter A to STEM, which stands for the arts.
“We decided to add the art component to the festival to make sure that we are inclusive, and we are welcoming all the cultures and all the ages,” said Rouslana Yaroslavsky, executive director of the Redwood City Library Foundation.
The STEM festival was originally intended to expose youth to science, technology, engineering and math by providing an exciting and interactive environment in a festival setting.
With a successful turnout from last year’s event, the STEM organizers and sponsors wanted to expand the festival’s mission by incorporating arts programs, which would emphasize the importance of creativity and design thinking for those interested in the STEM fields.
This year’s STEAM Fest 2.0 also focused on diversifying the participants — especially those children and parents from different ethnicities and underprivileged communities.
Yaroslavsky also said: “We focused on promoting the festival to Spanish-speaking communities. Our website was in English and in Spanish. We made sure that we were reaching out to those families, and we are providing those services in both languages. We have Spanish-speaking volunteers, focused on helping families who have difficulty understanding instructions in English.”
The festival was decorated with various nonprofit organizations, academic institutions and local area businesses that held various immersive experiences and activities for both the children and their parents. “Kids learn through hands-on activities. All the participating organizations of the STEAM fest were required to provide hands-on activities and describe them in their fliers,” Yaroslavsky said.
With the emphasis of arts in this year’s STEAM festival, Courthouse Square was filled with colorful and vibrant music performed by the Bay Area’s very own boys and girls — from the Ragazzi Boys Chorus group to the Ralston Jazz Group.
“We think that bringing kids together and providing this special venue for them to do these kinds of hands-on activities will sparkle the creativity and sparkle the interests of those families and kids,” Yaroslavsky added.