Butterfield Elementary students learn some science facts at Central Arizona College during S.T.E.A.M. Day.

By Michelle Chance

The third annual S.T.E.A.M. Day at the Central Arizona College Maricopa campus introduced local sixth-graders to learning sessions that combined science, technology, engineering, art and math.

Jan. 11-12, students from Butterfield Elementary and other schools got hands-on experience during four learning sessions.

In one class, students watched as a 3D printer designed a plastic shark. In another, kids learned about the science behind the culinary arts as they watched Chef Gabe Gardner make marshmallows from scratch.

Students then got to experiment with technology using iPad microscopes and later with LED lights.

Carrie McIntyre, STEM Program Advisor at CAC, said careers in S.T.E.A.M. encompass a wide array of fields including: computer programming, biology, astronomy, engineering, various fields in design and math, among many others.

In fact, careers in S.T.E.A.M. are growing.

According to a report by the Department of Commerce, careers in S.T.E.A.M. are estimated to grow by 17 percent between 2008 and 2018. Additionally, those working in steam related fields typically make more money than those who don’t.

McIntyre said it is important to expose children at a young age to S.T.E.A.M. because they are very exploratory and interested in how the world works.

“If we can begin to direct that vision at a young age to show them fields like engineering, and breaking it down to things like our 3D printer, [it can] really show them how that impacts their world and what they do.”

Butterfield Elementary School teacher Stephanie Shiflett said even sixth graders are not too young to begin considering a career path.

“I see a lot of students who haven’t really looked at who they want to be, and they might be closed off to the realities of what awaits them in the future,” Shiflett said. “So I think bringing the students here, they get to have so many hands-on experiences and it really gives them a wider view as to what they can do in their future.”

Sixth grade student Aubryana Pick said she is interested in interior design, but she might also consider studying culinary arts at CAC after attending the S.T.E.A.M. Day event.

“They have a lot of appliances and you can do a lot in this school,” she said.

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