WINCHESTER — Students from around the county got a taste Saturday of a wide range of activities that are meant to expose them to a variety of educational activities.
The STEAM Extravaganza, held at Umpqua Community College, emphasized science, technology, engineering, arts and math and how all of those subjects work together. Grace Goodson, the project coordinator for the Umpqua Valley Steam Hub Officials, said they hope it will get the kids interested in some careers they may not have thought about.
“The future job openings that are coming up are a high level of STEAM. It’s projected by 2024 that 20 percent of job growth is going to be in the STEAM field, so that’s why we think STEAM education is really important,” said Goodson.
She said all of the booths featured Douglas County organizations, including Learning Matters, a private tutoring company, which helps students improve their grades.
Michael Hoie, the UCC Engineering Club president who is on the path to be a civil engineer, said they were excited to bring some of their fun items to the event to show kids how fun engineering can be.
“We’re trying to get them interested in the possibilities so we’ve got some drones, and when the sun comes out we have solar cars. They can put together a vehicle and have it powered by the sun, and we’ve got another activity with windmills producing power,” said Hoie.
Ryan Zeedyke, a STEAM specialist at Douglas Education Service District, had a station where kids could engineer a cardboard tunnel or build their own robot armor out of cardboard, or even make two dimensional designs out of colors and create stuff. He also had 3-D printing pens, and even had legos that got the attention of the kids.
“We want to inspire kids to enjoy STEAM education. For a long time the science and math fields got bad wraps for being boring, so we’re trying to show the other side of that, that it’s very hands on and that it’s very engaging and very exciting,” said Zeedyke.
Students had a variety of tours and demonstrations they could attend, including going through the UCC Observatory, the Whipple Fine Arts building, visiting with Wildlife Safari animals, and even watching an electric assist bicycle demonstration.
The STEAM Hub in Douglas County was one of six regional hubs awarded state funds in February 2014, to be used to build an infrastructure to provide STEAM education. They received $325,000 for the project.
The hub is targeted to impact Douglas County youth and provide professional development support for adults serving youth.