Two hundred eighth grade students were in control, or at the controls rather, for the Great Northwest STEM camp.
STEM is really a big initiative nationwide. So it's just very important if you think about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. They're separate. Yet they all co-mingle," says Kim Murphy, interim director of the area career and tech center at the Great Northwest Education Cooperative.
With presentations on automation, programming, and oil drilling and pumping, students learned firsthand from professionals working in the field.
"Oasis took us into their bus thing and we got to see this slime stuff and they added chemicals to it. And it went back into the cup,"says Emilee Puckett, an eighth grader.
And while some have future careers mapped out-
"I kind of like doing the engineering stuff. I want to be a mechanical engineer when I grow up," says home schooler, Raleigh Martin.
"I want to become a graphic designer. Design educational games and stuff," says Richard Hurley, eighth grader at Tioga High School.
Others are still figuring it out-
"I don't know yet," says eighth grader, Emilee Puckett.
A goal of the camp is to help students have a better understanding of STEM career opportunities.
"They can start looking at what education should they be looking into if their career choice is A,B, or C," says Murphy.
Research shows careers in STEM are growing faster than non-STEM jobs. According to a U.S. Department of Commerce study, STEM workers earn higher wages. And STEM degree holders earn more money regardless of whether they work in a STEM or non-STEM job.
"Any engineering degree, you can't go wrong with. But really, any education you can't go wrong with. So hopefully, today, it's going to spark some interest to go and pursue highher level degrees," says Linda Pitman, quality operations engineering advisor at Oasis.
And whether they go on to pursue STEM careers in the future, who doesn't like playing with robots?
This is the first year that the STEM camp has been held.