BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — The 11th annual IdeaFestival Bowling Green will welcome more than 850 middle and high school students from 21 school districts across the Commonwealth to campus for a mix of speaker sessions and minds-on, hands-on activities from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, February 15.
Put on by the Center for Gifted Studies at Western Kentucky University, IdeaFestival Bowling Green showcases innovation and inspires students. Five innovators and entrepreneurs will share their stories and take questions from students 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m. at Van Meter Hall. This year’s speakers are:
- Sam Ford – Sam Ford works with organizations on innovation, audience engagement, and storytelling strategies. As executive director of AccelerateKY, Sam works on various initiatives to connect, inform, and inspire others in support of Kentucky’s capacity for innovation. He also serves as an Innovation and Culture Fellow for WKU.
- John Mittel – While studying at the University of Louisville Med School, John sought an alternative to sugary energy drinks, leading to the inception of caffeinated sparkling water, Phocus, in fall 2015. The entrepreneur was later named to the 2021 Forbes Next 1000 List.
- Kesi Neblett – Kesi Neblett, a native of Russellville, KY, and an alumna of The Gatton Academy, ventured from Kentucky to New York City where she majored in computer science engineering and captained her Division 1 volleyball team. After graduating, she worked as a financial software developer on Wall Street before quitting to travel the world. She joined Netflix’s reality show, The Mole.
- Derek Stitt – Dr. Derek Stitt is a physician, teacher, and podcaster with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. A native of Robertson County, KY, Derek received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Kentucky before heading north to Minnesota for his residency. Since 2018, he has served as an attending physician with the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Neurology, and he provides clinical training in neuroscience.
- Kristina Villa – Kristina Villa is a farmer, communicator, and community coordinator who believes our connection to the soil is directly related to the health of our bodies, economy, and society. Kristina is Co-Executive Director for The Farmers Land Trust, Inc. and has spent the last several years saving farmland from development and securing it for farmers as well as addressing the inequities and disparities in how land is owned and accessed in America.
Afternoon sessions feature minds-on, hands-on activities to ignite the curiosity in IdeaFestival participants. Students will have a chance to step into the world of virtual reality, create a special viewer for the upcoming solar eclipse, learn the basic principles of neuroscience, create new business products, and more from 11:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This year’s activity creators include AccelerateKY, American Printing House for the Blind, Artist Andee Rudloff, The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU, The Gatton Academy, Green River Regional Educational Cooperative, Kentucky Engineering Exposure Network, Kentucky Science Center, Lost River Cave, Mahurin Honors College, Metals Innovation Initiative, South Central KY AHEC, Warren County Public Library, WKU Department of Biology, WKU Management Department, WKU Meteorology, WKU Office of Admissions, WKU School of Teacher Education, and the WKU Student Chapter of National Dance Education Organization.
Created in agreement with IdeaFestival, the mission of IdeaFestival Bowling Green is to inspire the next generation of creators, thinkers, and innovators in our region. The event is hosted by The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU, with sponsorship from AT&T and The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky.
Media members are invited to attend; please reach out to The Center for Gifted Studies at (270) 745-6323 or contact festival organizers Tyler Clark ([email protected]) or Elizabeth Joyce ([email protected]). More information can be found at wku.edu/gifted/ideafestivalbg.