Almost 70 area students came together on Saturday for the region’s first ever STEMfest, a day of hands-on science education.
Hosted at South Meadow School and including kids from Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School and Great Brook School were taught by engineering students from University of New Hampshire’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences.
“We’re seeing hundreds of kids across the state over the school year,” Mike Locke, a UNH junior and one of the counselors, said. “We have a great staff and the kids love it, I just love inspiring them in what inspires me.”
The event was organized by SMS Principal Anne O’Bryant as part of the school’s effort to make science learning fun.
“It is an opportunity to get our young students excited about STEM and the other things, including art, that can come together,” she said.
Dave DeWitt, President of Phase65, an organization dedicated to manufacturing education that sponsored STEMfest, and a liaison to the ConVal school district’s engineering programs, said, “I think it’s really important to get kids involved in technology, and I think middle school is the best time to get them.”
STEM is used in education as shorthand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. (O’Bryant said that at SMS, they prefer to use STEAM, which adds Arts.)
The counselors from UNH, in addition to fielding a bevy of questions about lightsabers, led five activity sessions.
Students alternated learning about building movable robots, programming a robot to move on its own, cleaning up after an oil spill, constructing wind turbines and, a classic, building a contraption to keep an egg from cracking after a fall.
Daniel McCall, an SMS sixth-grader, said his favorite was programming Sparki the robot because he and his older brother are very interested in programming.
Lily Ercoline, a seventh-grader, said that was her favorite, too: “I’ve been interested in robots for a while and joined the robotics club.”
It was an opportunity for the students to do activities that they don’t usually get to do.
Jonny Henly, a fourth-grader at Greenfield Elementary School, said, “It was challenging and you don’t get to program a lot.”