Etowah City School hosted its fifth annual STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) Fair yesterday.

Students ranging from pre-K through eighth grade had the opportunity to participate in the fair, which featured an assortment of constructed creations not only illuminating their knowledge in different subjects, but also in presentation forms.

With widespread participation, each class has a set of winners first through third place and, ultimately, the school will have an overall set of winners.

Coordinator of the STEAM Fair Debbie Lennex, who is also the school’s computer lab teacher, spoke about how much the students enjoy the event.

“It’s very exciting. The kids enjoy the hands on aspect of it,” Lennex said, adding that projects range from “everything from hydraulic pumps, to robotics and simple lego builds” that challenge students to employ their teamwork skills.

Later, sixth grader John Ballaban echoed this notion independently.

“It’s very exciting and very interesting because of all the hands on stuff,” he said.

Each year the fair grows in both participation and excitement, Lennex said. This year, the event was scheduled during parent-teacher conferences in efforts to enhance attendance for both activities.

Lennex said she thought the event was successful — because most importantly, students learned and developed through the experience.

“The main success comes from students growing and I feel like they’ve grown in many ways,” she explained. “It’s so fun that they don’t even realize that they’re learning.”

In her own words, eighth grader Mackenzie Hansen validated the coordinator’s statement.

“It’s very interesting because you get to see a lot of things you wouldn’t think could be built and it’s cool because you get to learn a lot of new stuff,” Hansen said.

The STEAM Fair challenges students to exemplify knowledge in different subjects, according to Lennex.

“I love that they can apply concepts of what they’ve learned in classes in a project based on experiences,” she explained, adding that for each student, the event “spans more than one lesson.”

Fourth graders Lillie White and Desiree Coburn commented on what they enjoyed about the event.

White said the event was fun because it allowed students to “work together” and gave them higher “self esteem” through the process. Coburn explained she thought the it gave students “an advantage” because it offered insight about different careers.

Similarly, Lennex stated she believes the fair is important because it exposes students to outside interests beyond what classrooms can offer. To that end, the event is attended by outside vendors and employees from different industries who interact with the kids.

Lennex noted that in the future, she “would like to see more vendors and careers represented” because the “community partners make it full circle.”

Because the Etowah City teacher wants the event to be bigger and better every year, she said she hopes to receive more input and participation from entities outside the school system.

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