Intelligent Entrepreneurs and Engineers were not Expected

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Are you a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math)  school?  Are you thinking of bringing more STEM to your school?  It’s definitely building in the world of education. In today’s world we need more students considering the study of these fields.  Getting them started early will open doors of possibilities to their young minds.

Today, I found myself in an event that brought STEM to the community.

My colleague had asked me to go with her to an even called Maker Fest.  We heard that it would be full of entrepreneurs and creative thinkers.   We envisioned 3-D printers, adults sharing ideas with how they had found a problem and determined a solution to solve it, and technology based booths.  What we found was something similar, but better.

Upon arrival, I first noticed a large section fenced off in the middle of the building.  Inside this section were very large shapes made out of the type of foam that pool noodles were made of; in fact, there were pool noodles there too.  These large shapes were rectangular prisms, cubes, U-shaped blocks, cylinders, and more.  They were meant to be manipulated and formed to create new structures.  I hadn’t seen anything like it so I took out my phone and snapped some pictures.  (Sorry about the less than stellar quality.) Not only were these new to me, but those engaged in the manipulation were very energetic and having a wonderful time.  Who were these builders?  Children.  “What a great play place for kids after they had walked around the building with their parents looking at all this science and math stuff.” I thought.

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My colleague and I continued on to check out the booths.  As we rounded the outer corner of the path, we found a leather works booth.  At the time, the exhibitor was showing a couple of young girls how they could make a leather fob.  “Well, that’s nice.” And I snapped another picture.  I can’t help it.  When I see kids learning, I’ve got to admire it.

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Moving on down the line of booths there were sewing machines, carved wooden boats, and a “take-apart table.”  Hmmm.  Was this a place where other exhibiters could get extra parts?  AS I looked more closely, there was yet another child engaged in taking a part an electrical contraption.  Then it hit me!  This wasn’t an event just for adults.  This was actually an event in which do-it-yourself fans and technology fans came together to share their knowledge and to let kids try things out.  It was fantastic!

We continued around the room finding all varieties of STEM work going on.  We found a young man that had designed his own marshmallow shooter, rubber band shooter, and “balloon shooter thing” (that’s what he named it).  He was not only the designer, but he was showing 3 young boys how they worked and how they could make one of their own.  His proud father joked about the number of marshmallows he finds around the house.

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Next, we came across a robotics club from the nearest high school.  They were demonstrating the robot they made for competition and teaching younger kids about how it worked.

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I love this!  Continuing on we found an artist sharing her talent of weaving long pine needles into baskets and charms.  She was probably about 12 years old, but she ran her booth like a pro.  Another booth had a special projector that displayed via lasers, I think, onto a sandbox showing the topography of the sand and it changed instantly when children and my colleague (LOL) moved the sand around.  Fascinating!  Yet other booths demonstrated fine weaving, sewing, horticulture, virtual reality, electronics, and more.  We also found the 3-D printer booth which completely fascinated my colleague.  When we ran upon R2-D2, BB-8, and some of his other robot friends we giggled and shot even more photos.  I took picture after picture; each with children and adults engaged in science, math, technology, and engineering.

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What a day! I went thinking I was going to be hearing from some very intelligent engineers and entrepreneurs and I wasn’t disappointed.  It was even better than what I had expected.

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I noticed that as I was leaving my face hurt from smiling so much.  Not from my love of science.  (My parents will tell you about my struggle with science in high school and my peer-tutor turned boyfriend.  But that’s another story.)  My smile was from seeing children enjoying themselves so much and not realizing that they were learning.

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As my colleague and I walked back to the car, our brains started thinking about how this would be a fantastic type of event to bring to a school.  Instead of a traditional science fair, where  kids present their tri-fold poster board touting the experiment they took part in, how about bringing high school students in, local STEM clubs, students with ingenuity and ideas, and a ton of materials for students to play with?  My head is spinning with ideas and inspiration.  That’s pretty amazing for a person that avoids the science classes or science staff development opportunities.  Events like today brought STEM to the people.  Families enjoyed a free day to play and learn, and, today, two teachers had their expectations blown away.