First annual event showcased robotics, virtual reality
From station to station and room to room, there was no shortage of wide-eyed fascination at the St. Charles Parish East Bank Library Tuesday.
The venue was packed for its first annual STEM Fair, which was developed out of a partnership between the library and Entergy Waterford 3 and showcased a wide variety of neat devices, creations and demonstrations for the strong audience of children, young adults and parents in attendance.
“We had a great time,” said Pamela Petit of Luling, who brought her 5-year-old son Evan to enjoy the event and said they’d been exploring there for more than two hours. “We probably could stay for more, but we were hungry for lunch. He’s big into science … he jumped around in every room.”
All of the elements of STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — were on display.
In one area, retired science teacher Marie Tizzard encouraged students to act like paleontologists, by investigating ancient ocean sediments to discover and identify shark teeth, coral, sea shells, and more. In another, the Destrehan robotics team showed their creations and what they could do, while giving lucky attendees a test drive.
A virtual reality room was a hit, while outside the St. Charles Parish Planetarium hosted astronomy-themed activities. Another room featured a host of demonstrations, including LEGO-bots, “Ping pong Fission” and “Create a catapult.”
“They had more than I thought would be there,” Petit said. “We were constantly moving to a new area. I’m not sure we even saw it all.”
Luling’s April D’amico said her children, 9-year-old Aaron and 5-year-old Avery, favored the demonstration of Cube-bots.
“We loved the robots. We probably could have played all day with those,” D’amico said.
Lauren Pitz, St. Charles Parish Library spokeswoman, said event planners had an inkling the event would be a popular one, but the turnout exceeded even those expectations — as the library’s full parking lot and cars lined up onto the incoming street would suggest.
“I would have been thrilled with around 250 people, but obviously we went over that,” Pitz said. “WE had our second annual Tech Con in the spring, and we’re seeing that a lot of people are looking for more things like this. I think today’s turnout really shows St. Charles Parish is ready for more of these events.”
Pitz credited the St. Charles Parish school system in part for the rising popularity of STEM-related things.
“Everything kind of came together for this … especially with public schools having two days off this week, it gave everyone a chance to come out here,” Pitz said. “It was really a perfect storm.
“It’s something fun, safe, free and educational, and they can come to the library for it. I’d imagine we’ll have it back next year.”