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AirFest to encourage Scouts to consider STEM careers

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014 2:11 p.m. CDT

ROMEOVILLE – The Boy Scouts of America and Lewis University Airport will host about 4,000 Scouts and leadership from across the country Friday through Sunday for the first Scout AirFest.

The event, closed to the public but open to any Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Venture Scout and adult leaders, encourages Scouts to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math, otherwise known as STEM.

"We developed Scout AirFest for this very reason," said Marc Ryan, Scout Executive for the Rainbow Council serving Will and Grundy counties. "The big idea is to expose Scouts to these fields at a fun, aviation-themed event."

AirFest coordinator Ken McCafferty said the event is a culmination of two years of working with Lewis University, the Joliet Regional Port District and the National Weather Service to establish what he called the largest gathering of Scouts in the area.

"There are over 70 programs, with model rockets, discovery flights and a National Weather Service tour," McCafferty said.

Other STEM-related activities include an astronomy quest, hot air balloons, a cockpit tour of a Boeing 737, experimental aircraft demonstrations, a Mercury Space Capsule exhibit, amateur radio, table top robotics and vintage airplane exhibits.

"The reason this is important is because kids often overlook the field of aviation for potential career opportunities," McCafferty said. "The goal of this event is to show kids different avenues to follow to achieve their goals."

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