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Full STEAM ahead | News, Sports, Jobs – Fort Dodge Messenger


-Messenger photo by Michaela Frerichs

Fifth grader Joel Natjes holds up a millipede from the Iowa State University Insect Zoo.

Students had the opportunity to explore several areas of science, technology, engineering, art, and math thanks to activities from area businesses and organizations on Friday.

Iowa Central Community College hosted students from several area elementary schools for an event called STEAMfest. There were 15 booths for students to visit and try different activities such as operating chemistry equipment and looking at organisms through a microscope at Elanco’s booth, experiencing a rocket launch in virtual reality with ISU FLEX Experience, or creating a logo design with the Blanden Memorial Art Museum.

“We asked different businesses and organizations to put together a hands-on activity so that students can learn about different careers in the Fort Dodge community in different STEM and arts fields,” said Kelly Bergman, north central Iowa STEM manager.’ Sometimes it’s really hard to know what’s out there and this is a way for students to see what type of jobs are available.”

Joel Natjes, a fifth grader from Feelhaver Elementary School, said he especially enjoyed ISU’s Insect Zoo.

“I think it’s been really interesting,” he said. ”Petting a tarantula was awesome. I’ve never actually seen a tarantula in person before. I love this place. I wish I could come back.”

-Messenger photo by Michaela Frerichs

Ginny Mitchell, education program coordinator of Iowa State University’s Insect Zoo, holds a tarantula for students to touch while teaching them about the insect.

Fifth grader Ava Osorio said she thought holding some of the insects was really interesting also. “I like to go out and catch weird bugs,” she said. “I held the millipede and it feels like if you touch your eyelashes, it was cool.”

Ginny Mitchell, education program director for the Iowa State University Insect Zoo, brought over 25 species of arthropods for the students to see and some they could touch.

Despite Osorio’s best attempts to convince her friend, fellow fifth grader Casey Alexander, to hold a bug, Alexander said she was more interested in the robotics and virtual reality.

“I think the bugs are cool but I didn’t touch anything,” she said. “The VR thing looks really cool and the robotics were a lot different than the robotics we do at school.”

Fort Dodge Robotics brought a few robots they have built and students were able to try their hand at driving them.

-Messenger photo by Michaela Frerichs

Marisha Erickson, art educator for the Blanden Memorial Art Museum, presents students with a graphic design challenge to create a logo with shapes and colors.

“I liked the robotics and it was kind of like a controller for a game but it was different than you thought it would be like I would try to go forward and it would drive backward,” said Osorio.

Other activities included building a marshmallow tower with ISU’s program for Women in Science and Engineering called WiSE, making ethanol and watching elephant toothpaste explode with Cargill, exploring hands-on agriculture with NEW Cooperative, learning about glass fusion and trying to cut glass with Studio Fusion, exploring watersheds and seeing the impact of flooding with Iowa Flood Center, exploring digital design with Woodruff Construction, learning about what goes into making pet food with Nestle Purina PetCare, operating scientific instruments with Koch Fertilizer Fort Dodge, rolling a magnetic wiffleball and learning about filtration with CJ Bio America, and hearing stories from a reenactor portraying a D-Day paratrooper and tasting field ration chocolate with the Fort Museum and Frontier Village.

-Messenger photo by Michaela Frerichs

Students experience operating laboratory instruments at Elanco’s booth at STEAMfest.


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