STEM Outdoor Learning Fair Set For Sept. 28

More than 500 fifth graders from five River District schools will get their hands and minds around STEM concepts on Sept. 28 at the 2nd Annual STEM Outdoor Learning Fair.

The event, presented by the Catawba River District in partnership with UNC Charlotte’s STEM Education Center, will take place 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Duke Energy’s Energy Explorium on Lake Norman. Local experts will lead interactive lessons on alternative energy, recycling, groundwater protection and other science- and math-based topics.

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Business leaders say our students must have a strong STEM foundation to ensure that America’s future workforce can compete in the global economy.

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx and Mount Holly Mayor Brian Hough will greet the students at 10 a.m. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Supt. Heath Morrison and board Chair Erica Ellis-Stewart will join Gaston Schools Deputy Supt. Lory Morrow and board Chair William Marcus Upchurch, Sr. to speak at students at the event wrap-up.

Learning Fair students will come from Catawba Heights and Ida Rankin Elementary Schools in Gaston County and Mountain Island Elementary, River Oaks Academy and Whitewater Academy in Mecklenburg County.

Outdoor Learning Fair Sponsors and Hosts

Businesses, colleges and individuals are helping bring about the STEM Fair. Major sponsors include: Presbyterian Healthcare – Huntersville; Huber Technology; and Piedmont Natural Gas. Center topics and hosts include:
• Alternative Energy – Duke Energy
• Forestry – NC Cooperative Extension and NC State Educational Forest
• Forest Functions – Naturalist Craig Wyant
• Grease Free – Charlotte-Meck Utilities
• Groundwater – Mecklenburg LUESA
• Non-Point Pollution – UNC Charlotte
• Recycling – UNC Charlotte
• Water Cycle – Belmont Abbey College
• Water Systems – Huber Technology
• Wellness – Presbyterian Healthcare
• Wetlands – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools STEM Department
• Wildlife – Horizons Unlimited (2 stations)

Help sponsor the STEM Outdoor Learning Fair

Become a sponsor for as little as $250 and help spur interest in science, technology, engineering and math at the most critical time in a young student’s education. Two-thirds of our students come from economically disadvantaged families. Your sponsorship can help them see STEM-based careers as a reachable possibility.

Sponsors also gain recognition through name and/or logo placement on websites, releases, T-shirts etc.

Learn more:
• Contact Edna Chirico at or (704) 562-8847.
• Download sponsorship materials: Visit
• View 2011 Learning Fair video: Visit

About The Catawba River District

The Catawba River District is a regional organization committed to sustainable and vibrant communities, strong schools and economic development for a 16,000-acre area along the Catawba River that includes the historic downtowns of Mount Holly and Belmont and the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Mecklenburg County.

The Catawba River District and its partners have developed several programs to promote STEM learning within River District schools and the broader community, including:

• Schoolyard gardens – The Catawba River District launched schoolyard gardens at Whitewater Academy and Whitewater Middle School last spring. Students and teachers tended the gardens until June. Since then, teachers and other volunteers have come daily to keep the gardens going until the students return in August.
• K20 Learning World – The Catawba River District and a team of science education experts have designed a network of free, public STEM learning centers at parks, greenways, and other locations around the River District. These centers will help youngsters, parents and even college-level researchers build their STEM knowledge.
• Farm To School program – This project will create a working farm on private land and partner with nearby middle and high schools on programs such as animal husbandry, hydroponics and agribusiness. The project includes a food hub to process and market food from school gardens and small farms across the region.