On Saturday, May 4, Des Moines Area Community College hosted a STEM Festival at the VanKirk Career Academy in Perry. Like other STEM events, the afternoon was an opportunity for students from the area to learn principles of science, technology, engineering and math through a wide range of activities and games.

“DMACC had a great idea,” Perry elementary principal Ned Menke said. “Of course we were thrilled to come out and participate with it. And I’m very thankful for all of our staff members that were able to come out and volunteer on a Saturday as well.

“Kids get to explore [and learn] in a very easy way.”

According to Menke, over 70 kids of all ages had come through the festival within the first hour of the event.

One of those students was Alex Recino of Perry Elementary with his uncle, Mana Naki, a DMACC student who heard about the event through his classes and thought it’d be a fun afternoon.

While building a tower with magnets, Recino listed all the events he had done within the first hour, but his favorite was stacking eggs to see how high they could construct a pyramid.

Meanwhile down the hall, other students were learning through cutting-edge technology, including virtual reality experiences and 3-D printing.

After finishing his virtual ride on a roller coaster, one student wanted to immediately go again, excitedly talking about how he “could see around” the world without actually being there.

“It was just really awesome,” he ended before going back in line.

More activities were carried throughout the afternoon including Menke’s favorite, a toy car that moves through students learning to code instructions, a vital skill moving forward.

“STEM is really gaining steam as you can see here in this room now,” Menke said, noting that Perry has dabbled in STEM activities the past couple years but is looking for more opportunities like the festival as they continue their own programs.

To learn more about STEM education, visit www.ed.gov/STEM.