Campus Life

Blanding Campus STEAMs Up this Week

Steam proved to be a 19th century game changer for the Industrial Revolution and very well for the 21st century too, but in a different form: science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. These powerhouse disciplines are joining forces April 11-12 for the “S.T.E.A.M. Maker Expo” on the Blanding Campus of Utah State University Eastern.

The two-day event includes dozens of activities and presentations, including hovercrafts and robots, the science of search and rescue, symmetry in nature, motorized skate boards, the geometry of piles and the science splendor behind ceramics and kite flying.

The keynote speaker is Frank Morgan, Atwell Professor of Mathematics at Williams College. On Saturday, April 12, at 10 a.m., he will talk about the perplexing connection between soap bubbles and mathematics and invite participation from the audience. Soap bubbles will be provided.

The two-day exposition is expected to draw well over 1,000 participants, exhibitors and vendors, including more than 800 elementary, middle and high school students attending from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, said event planners Edward Larson, USU Eastern Technical Coordinator, and Georgiana Simpson, USU Eastern ImPACT Coordinator.

Major funding for the event is provided by USU Eastern’s Four-in-Four Enrollment Grant with additional help from the NASNTI (Native Americans Serving Non-Tribal Institutions) grant and the ImPACT sub-grant which is a part of the College Access Challenge Grant from the Department of Education.

Unique to the event is the partnering and collaboration with college, community, private, corporate and non-profit organizations, including the USU Engineering and Math departments, San Juan County Economic Development, the Natural History Museum of Utah, campus clubs, county schools and community groups, Simpson said.

The college’s own American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) club will present a student-built hovercraft, a motorized skateboard, as well as various VEX robots. This is the same student club that placed second in Washington, D.C., last spring at a VEX regional collegiate competition in LaPlata, Maryland, said Jared Berrett, Blanding Campus professor in technology and engineering education.

Though new to the robotics scene, the 12 Blanding Campus students were honored with a Judges Award for excellence and effort.  The club members have taken on the challenge to prepare themselves later this month in Anaheim, Calif., as part of the VEX Worlds competition. This year’s robot will need to successfully manipulate several round objects in a 12- by 12-foot arena while competing with other college teams in a two-on-two tournament, Berrett said.

In addition to Morgan’s keynote address, a number of other speakers are scheduled and a lineup of shorter TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) type presentations will be made.

“We are thrilled and honored to feature Dr. Morgan as our keynote speaker,” said Simpson. “He will be presenting a popular twist on his specialized work in minimal surfaces.”

Morgan’s presentation, “Soap Bubbles and Mathematics,” will address how soap bubbles continue to confound and amaze mathematicians. Interestingly, some recent mathematical breakthroughs in this area have actually come from students. His session will include a guessing contest with demonstrations, explanations and prizes.

“Immediately following his talk, Morgan will lead a hands-on workshop geared for children and adults with plenty of soap bubbles included,” Simpson said.

The first day of the exposition is especially geared toward students K-12. The entire student body of the Red Valley High School, Cove, Ariz., and Navajo Mountain High School in Utah, is expected to attend, along with  students from all San Juan County, Utah, schools as well as others visiting from around the Four Corners region, Larson said.

Other planned events and presentations include:

-Edge of the Cedars Starlab

-Edge of the Seaters Theatre Company performance of "Lucky Stiff"

-Music and dance performances from USU Eastern Cultural Ambassadors and San Juan High School musicians

-Training techniques from the country's most award-winning, steroid-free body builder, Ron Williams

-"Dancing Curves” and "Gelatin Mathematics" by Doyle Rowley

-The Art and Science of Ceramics by Mark Noirot, Mike Porter and Anthony Lott

-The Science of Search and Rescue, including a motorized gurney invented in Blanding

-Four Corners School Bio-Outdoor Education Project presents "Symmetry in Nature"

-Navajo Environmental Protection Agency presents information about water conservation

-Hands-on activities for kids of all ages, including a soldering tent; kite and rocket making demonstrating the science of flight; play with clay; and slime-making

-Ganado High School presents "Successes in S.T.E.M. Instruction"
-The Geometry of Piles of Salt by Troy Jones
-Theatre Production Tours
-“Mathematical Modeling and Pest Management” by Luis Gordillo
-“Well Designed Math Projects in the Classroom” by Matthew Lewis

-A Vendor/Maker Village for food and local artists and inventors to showcase their work

-“The Beauty of Mathematics in Nature, Art and Architecture: by Eric Rowley

-“Captain Photon,: aka Mark Noiroit, presents thoughts on solar capture

-Linguist Brian Stubbs presents his latest book

-Sustainable Growing by Edward Larson

For more information, contact Ed Larson at 435-678-8216 or Georgiana Simpson at 435-678-8162.

Related link:

Utah State University Eastern Blanding Campus

Contacts: Edward Larson, 435-678-8216,; Georgiana Simpson, 435-678-8162,

Writer: John DeVilbiss, 435-797-1358;

Frank Morgan is the keynote speaker at the STEAM expo on the Blanding Campus

Frank Morgan is the keynote speaker at the STEAM expo.

students at the Blanding Campus in the robotic program

Students participating in USU Eastern Blanding Campus robotic program.

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