The Sun News

Students have fun with STEM

WARNER ROBINS -- Children climbed inside of an ambulance, played a piano with Play-Doh keys and talked to pilots as part of the Georgia Kids’ STEM Day.

The annual event, held Saturday in the Century of Flight Hangar at the Museum of Aviation, started with the second- through fifth-graders talking to mentors from businesses around Middle Georgia.

Capt. Roger Hayes was on hand from the Centerville Police Department with fatal-vision goggles -- goggles that simulate an intoxicated person’s eyesight -- and a radar gun to teach children about the technology police use.

Spark Macon brought Google Cardboard, which looks like a cardboard version of the View-Master toy but turns out to be an interactive camera which allows the user to turn 360 degrees to see images on the screen.

“I think it is important to start them young. We want them to get excited about science, technology, engineering and math,” said Melissa Spalding, director of education at the museum.

More than 20 businesses were on hand to show the youngsters what options were available in the STEM career field.

The event drew 97 students and had 30 volunteers.

For Braden Ballard, his favorite part was the software engineering booth where a computer was set up for Minecraft.

Braden, 9, who attends Lake Joy Elementary School, said he wanted to be a software programmer, so he could improve the popular game.

“I’m learning a lot of cool things,” he said.

Tessa Morehead, a second-grader at Sacred Heart Catholic School, said her favorite part of meeting the mentors was the ambulance.

“There’s lots of cool stuff in there,” she said.

The 7-year-old wants to be an engineer when she grows up, so she can build airplanes or houses.

After meeting the mentors, the groups broke off into workshops that included robotics, building an electrical circuit board, rocketry and 3D dissection.

Students donned 3D glasses to participate in computerized dissections for the workshop.

“They have to start choosing these pathways early. We have a great resource for STEM jobs here, and we want them to stay here,” Spalding said.