Hoopla STEM Challenge Brings Hundreds to CJ

Basketball and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math - “What better combination could there be?”

Hundreds of people agreed with CJ STEMM Coordinator Meg Draeger as Chaminade Julienne once again served as the host site of the Hoopla STEM Challenge on Sunday, March 13.

“STEM is very important to our community and STEM is also important to the NCAA,” said Scott Sullivan with the Hoopla Organizing Committee. “STEM is additionally important to CJ so it was a natural fit.”

The Hoopla STEM Challenge was initiated in 2012. Sullivan said attendance has increased 20% each year, with this year’s attendance estimated well over 500.

The free event, for students in grades K-8, had participants shooting hoops, visiting and learning at STEM exhibits and enjoying food provided by Marion’s Piazza and W.G. Grinders. Former University of Dayton Men’s Basketball player Devin Oliver was on hand at this year’s event to show students how they could win prizes, including t-shirts, First Four tickets and iPads, all by making baskets. STEM exhibitors, including DP&L, Premier Health, and Wright Patterson Air Force Base, had hands-on activities for the students.

“Our room contained hands-on, fun puzzles and challenges,” Draeger explained in reference to the CJ STEMM exhibit. “We had mini-engineering challenges that were mostly self-explanatory and exploratory. Generally the parents were enjoying these activities too.”

Abby Arestides ’17 was one of several CJ students who volunteered to help out at the Hoopla STEM Challenge.

“I am in the Project Lead the Way biomed program and this is something fun to do on the weekend,” shared Arestides.

Volunteers and participants both agreed the Hoopla STEM Challenge is a unique event for the Dayton community.

“I think the Hoopla STEM Challenge is a great opportunity for students especially at such a young age,” Arestides noted. “I never even heard of half of this stuff until I went to high school and they are experiencing it now so it’s pretty cool.”

“This does not happen anywhere else,” agreed Sullivan. “That’s what makes the Big Hoopla and the First Four activities around Dayton different than anywhere else around the world.”