RICHMOND, Texas – The Fort Bend Independent School District hosted its fourth annual STEAM Fest. Around 4,000 students of all ages attended STEAM Fest, an interactive and learning expo, where students were exposed to a variety of hands-on activities.
“Science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics infiltrate everything that we do,” Meredith Watassek, director of career and technical education at FBISD, said. “We have teachers and students from all of our high schools and middle schools represented at our 16 programs area booths. Students and teachers develop what it is that they’re doing at the booth.”
For the first time, STEAM Fest took place at the Gallery Furniture in Richmond.
“This is our future, and what better way to celebrate the future than to educate these fantastic young people?” Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale from Gallery Furniture said.
"The kids get to explore different things," Chantelle Ovarka, a parent, said. "Using their hands-on experience to learn different things that they are seeing, instead of reading it in a book."
Sixteen educational booths, along with 30 booths for vendors with businesses, nonprofit organizations and law enforcement, including the Fort Bend Sheriff’s Office, surrounded the gallery room. Each vendor booth showed a sign showing how its specialty corresponds with a specific education course or pathway that the school offers.
“[These vendors are] people from the community that connect to the courses that we offer. Students see what it looks like in the real world through business and industry, and they know what classes they can take to learn what goes into that job,” Watassek said.
"We have several different courses and pathways that essentially train students in that specific career," Yvette Ramos, a professor at Stephen F. Austin, said.
Educators believe students should have the opportunity to experience and explore the different job careers available to them and encourage them to continue their education.
One booth was led by students interested in health and medicine and had a hands-on activity for children.
“They’re getting a gauze pad. They’re putting on their gloves. They’re pressing down, and the compression that they’re doing will help stop the bleeding,” Manushi Vatani, senior at Dulles High School, said.
Vatani is an aspiring pediatrician.
Organizers hope these students take what they learn and develop their interests and skills.
“So often, students will disconnect from school if they don’t understand how it applies to the real world,” Watassek said. “They may not walk out of here and know what their career is for their life, but we want them to walk out of here and ask questions. ‘What could I do?' and, 'How can I be engaged?’”