STEM Staycations encourage families to explore locally this spring break

Spring break marks the beginning of the travel season for many families, but a regional campaign aims at entertaining children and families locally. The STEM Staycation promotion is a network of partnering organizations with a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) focus, encouraging families to explore locally at partnering museums, planetariums, nature centers, and more. 

The series of STEM-based adventures provides educational, engaging entertainment for kids and families during seasonal and holiday breaks. Organized by the Great Lakes Bay Region STEM Pipeline, the program is in partnership with the Go Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Mt. Pleasant Area CVB
Courtney Soule is the Director of Communications at the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance.
As part of the series, the promotional STEM Passport Staycation promotion runs from March 25 through April 9. The STEM Passport has reached over 100,000 students since its launch in 2018. Courtney Soule, director of communications at Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance, says the program aims to showcase 30 partnering organizations. Participants can receive prizes for visiting partnering organizations. 

“It’s a great way to promote all the STEM learning opportunities in our region,” Soule says. The STEM events encourage children and families living or working in other counties to venture to new areas and experience learning outside of the classroom setting. 

Soule says STEM-based learning and programs have really seen a rise in the past few years, something the organization has championed. “This region, and one of the things we say about the Great Lakes Bay Region, is that we are a STEM-based region. A ton of organizations and roles are STEM jobs. Automotive, Dow Chemical, Michigan sugar, agriculture, agriscience, and even healthcare. Part of filling that future pipeline for workers and just workers in the region, generally, is starting kids young with an interest and exposure to STEM in a way that makes it fun and engaging.”

The STEM Passport is always accepting more participating locations, school partners, and collaborations. Soule says over the years, the program has created many partnerships between museums and participating locations. Looking ahead, she hopes the program can continue to inspire youth.  

MSU St. Andrews is a research facility in Midland.
“Our goal is to get more kids feeling like they have a place in STEM, and hope that more kids of all backgrounds see STEM as something they could do in the future, or have an interest in now,” Soule says.

Locally, participating STEM Passport locations include the Chippewa Nature Center in Midland, the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational STEM Center (seasonal during the tournament), Midland Center for the Arts, and the MSU St. Andrews STEAM - STEAM Education & Research Center.  
QR Code for STEM Pipeline
The passport program is digital, and families can scan the QR code to begin their adventures. After visiting the event or location, they can post a picture, share publicly, and tag STEM Pipeline (@STEMPipeline) to win a prize. Prizes include free hotel stays, gift cards, and museum tickets. 

There are also free entry and activities planned. Locally, the Midland Center for the Arts is offering 50 free entries on March 28-29 if you mention STEM Pipeline. 

In Mt. Pleasant, 10 families can receive free entry to the Central Michigan University Center for Excellence in STEM Education’s MicroCamp on March 25 from 9 a.m. to noon. Participants must pre-register, using the code passport.
3D printer, example of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
On April 3 from 1 to 4 p.m., and April 5 from 10-11 a.m., families can receive free entry to the Bay County Historical Museum + Delta Kids/Michigan Learning Channel. Other STEM Staycations promotions will run during the summer and winter break later in the year. The full calendar of STEM Pipeline events can be found here. 

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Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at