The Ohio State University at Lima

ID-ing an interest in STEAM

Ohio State Lima STEAM on the Quad event

My girls and I loved every single table. We appreciate the efforts of OSU, 4H and all the other organizations and volunteers involved! Thank you so much for creating such a quality community event. We can hardly wait for next year! Vanessa Damschroder, mother of attendee

Georgie waited patiently at the Bird Banding table at the 2017 STEAM on the Quad event.

Around her, other kids were trying out hovercraft, seeing the universe through virtual reality, playing a tune on a fruit-powered circuit or getting up close to a local clam. Overhead, bubbles were floating across the Ohio State Lima campus from the science methods table, paper rockets were shooting skyward and model airplanes made on a 3D printer were taking off.

But Georgie and her family had found their way to the Biology Department’s table with its sample nets and books filled with birds. She looked at everything on the table, examined the guidebooks and had her mom note how long it would be before biology professor Dr. Jackie Augustine returned from the Tecumseh Natural Area.

Dr. Augustine and her undergraduate students study the survival of wild songbirds. The bird banding table at STEAM was a way to share her efforts and help visiting students find out more about the native species of northwest Ohio. When Dr. Augustine asked the gathered crowd to identify the bird she was holding, it was Georgie who easily picked it out as a chickadee.

“I looked at her and saw myself at that age. I would go to my grandma’s house and read her ‘Reader’s Digest Guide to North American Wildlife,’” Dr. Augustine said. “I could tell this little girl knew her birds, just like I did at her age. When it was time to let the bird go, I asked her if she would help me.”
After carefully taking the bird from Dr. Augustine, Georgie loosened her hand and the chickadee was on its way back to the woods. In the back of the crowd, her mom said “This is a life changing moment for her.”

The goal of STEAM on the Quad is to open up the worlds of science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics to young people in the community at a time when they are deciding what is important, fascinating and meaningful to them.

“As an educator, we have to look for ways to connect with students and support their interests by providing more opportunities for them to learn,” Dr. Augustine said. “I saw a spark in that girl. I was hoping to pass on some of my knowledge and passion for the natural world.”

It worked. Georgie will be back on campus to help with bird banding and learn more from a fellow bird enthusiast.

STEAM on the Quad 2017 welcomed more than 450 students and their families to the Ohio State Lima campus, tripling the attendance from year one to two. Community organizations, businesses, student groups, academic departments, the 4-H Tech Wizards and Extension agents hosted more than 50 activities free of charge for area residents.

STEAM on the Quad is a collaboration between Ohio State Lima and the 4-H programs of Allen, Putnam and Hardin counties with support from the eXtension Foundation and Patricia Kunz Brundige Youth Development Fund for Positive Youth Development Research.