What better place to promote a superhero comic series than a comic book convention? For our third year in a row, SWE exhibited at C2E2, the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo at McCormick Place, from February 28-March 1.
SWE’s main goal for attending C2E2 is to promote its comic book series, Constance & Nano. Constance and Nano was created four years ago as an effort to promote STEM in a more fun and meaningful way to younger audiences. The comic book is centered on a heroine named Nano, who helps solve problems with science, technology, engineering, and math, with her human sidekick, Constance. During C2E2, we handed out copies of Constance & Nano to everyone who attended the booth and had a cosplayer portraying Nano at the booth throughout the weekend. The amount of comics given away and photos of kids with Nano makes a strong case that SWE is succeeding in helping engage kids about engineering in a fun, creative way.
The other main goal of SWE’s presence at C2E2 is outreach. With attendance close to 100,000 people, C2E2 is popular with people of all ages. This opens up SWE’s message of encouraging female participation in STEM to a massive potential new audience. Last year, SWE received over 100 SWENext signups at the booth, and this year we increased that amount with over 140 signups over the course of the three-day weekend. In addition to our general enthusiasm for everything SWE does, we gave out free SWENext superhero capes to everyone who signed up and hosted a couple of fun hands-on activities with kids. One of those activities was using straws and the tips of pipettes to make paper rockets fly.
The other activity was in collaboration with STEM Read, an organization run through Northern Illinois University that uses live and online programs to inspire kids to learn more STEM concepts in fiction. During the convention on Saturday, members of STEM Read showed kids how to construct light-up Frankenstein circuits.
Also during Saturday, SWE collaborated with STEM Read on a panel. Karen Horting (SWE’s Executive Director & CEO) was on the panel called, “STEM and the Scream Harnessing Horror in the Classroom.” In this panel, Karen and other panelists discussed how horror fiction can be used to inspire young people to become involved in STEM fields.
Follow SWENext on Facebook and on Twitter @SWENext to learn about future events as we find new ways to attract young girls to the exciting world of STEM!