Opening the doors to different experiences in science, technology, engineering and math was the focus on Friday night at Hillcrest Elementary as the school showcased a variety of gadgets and careers for students.

Principal Spencer Holmgren said the STEM at Work Night was designed to expose families and students to all the different opportunities available throughout Cache Valley.

“We have a lot of different options ranging from the Bear River Refuge, USU Insects and Zootah all the way to the Star Lab and aviation-related activities,” Holmgren said. “We also included clubs from the school with the First Lego League Robotics and the Odyssey of the Mind club, which mixes STEM and art. We also have an engineering club building structures.”

Holmgren said with nearly 500 students in the school, STEM education is built into much of the curriculum as teachers work to incorporate lessons from math and science into writing and reading assignments.

Throughout the evening, students and their families had the opportunity to try their hand at making paper airplanes to see what designs would work best, and for those more daring, a chance to hold a cockroach was available.

Ron Goodrich of Campbell Scientific demonstrated a weather-monitoring station and allowed students to blow into a anemometer to generate enough power to light up a string of Christmas lights.

“Our whole entire mission as a company is to improve and benefit mankind with environmental monitoring throughout the application of science,” Goodrich said. “With the STEM education, it fits right along with what we believe in and what we want to accomplish.”

Having spent nearly 22 years as a teacher in the Box Elder School District, Goodrich wishes there had been more opportunities like the Hillcrest event when he was teaching to generate more interest in STEM fields.

Although not part of a club at the school, fifth-grader Lucia Lagrange said getting to experience all the different options was a neat experience as she bounced from table to table to settling on the 3D printer.

While many of the students made keychains emblazoned with Huskies — the schools mascot — Lagrange chose to memorialize her favorite soccer player, Lionel Messi.

“There is Lego robotics and different experiments you can try out and learn about,” Lagrange said. “I just learned to program with a 3D printer, and it was really fun. I think the printer was my favorite, and I made a keychain that said Messi because he is the best soccer player.”

John Zsiray is a journalist at The Herald Journal. He can be reached at jzsiray@hjnews.com. Twitter Ramblings: @zsiray

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