Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Athletics again offered thrilling basketball competition and interactive learning opportunities at its annual Education Day held Thursday, Jan. 31.
The event, sponsored by Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery, brought more than 1,700 students from Metro-East schools to the Vadalabene Center to cheer on the SIUE Women’s Basketball team as they took on Morehead State University. It also featured science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities led by the SIUE STEM Center.
“We love hosting this event, made possible by our partner Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery, because it is a great community engagement opportunity for SIUE Athletics and the University as a whole,” said Paul Dodson, assistant athletic director of Marketing for SIUE Athletics. “It gives children in our community a chance to visit our great campus and experience SIUE in a fun way. For many kids, it’s their first time on a college campus.”
Participating schools included Collinsville Middle School, Roxana Elementary, East Alton Middle School, Trimpe Middle School, Bernard Long Elementary and Lewis and Clark Junior High.
“Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery is a proud community partner, and we love this great tradition,” said Melissa Erker, director of government and community relations. “Education Day is a great way to connect our local communities with this premier University. Many have not been exposed to a university atmosphere before today. The event also integrates STEM learning which we find incredibly valuable.”
While the Cougars were edged out by the Eagles with a final score of 73-67, the energized fans’ visit was jam-packed with exciting hoops and STEM learning opportunities. SIUE’s Allie Troeckler made her hometown crowd from Trimpe Middle School proud finishing as the team’s high scorer with 14 points.
“We all love watching Allie!” said Jeanette Lowrance, literacy block teacher and instructional coach at Trimpe. “Allie has been back to our community several times to help with different sporting events and camps, so the kids were excited to see her on the court.”
“We enjoy coming to this event every year,” Lowrance added. “It’s a wonderful opportunity that SIUE and Phillips 66 have offered for so many kids. Our school has about 540 students here to cheer on the Cougars.”
“This is my third time coming, and I love it,” said eighth-grade student Caydence Harlan. “It’s nice to have a break from classes and be here with our whole school.”
“I love basketball and especially watching Allie play,” added eighth-grade student Hannah Meiser.
During timeouts, the SIUE STEM Center brought kids onto the court to take part in an interactive STEM activity of launching marshmallows.
“We focused our activity on some of the science that’s involved in the basketball game, like trajectory, aiming, and the need to balance force and precision,” explained SIUE STEM Center Instructor and Outreach Specialist Colin Wilson. “We had students from different schools come down to launch marshmallows. You could tell where their school was, because that part of the gym would go crazy cheering them on!”
“This is exciting,” said fifth-grade student Noah Smith. “I’ve never been to a professional basketball game before, so it’s cool.”
“I can’t believe I get to launch marshmallows!” exclaimed fifth-grade student Keith Strickland. “This is a really good day.”
“Our school comes every year,” said Amy Herpel, a junior elementary education major at SIUE and student-teacher at Central Roxana. “The kids like being introduced to a college campus, and this gives teachers an opportunity to talk about college in class, and encourage kids to go one day.”
Students in attendance also enjoyed a high-flying halftime performance from the K9’s on the Flight Frisbee dog team. And, each student and teacher went home with a free t-shirt.
Photos: Metro-East students cheered wildly during the SIUE Women’s Basketball game on Education Day.
SIUE’s Jay’nee Alston takes it to the hoop during the Women’s Basketball game against Morehead State University.
SIUE STEM Center’s Carol Colaninno looks on as David Adams and Garrett Floyd from Trimpe Middle School see how far they can launch a marshmallow.