Students discover STEM opportunities at forum
Daily Journal. Ryan Trares. September 21, 2018.

Tubes bubbled with liquid and display screens flashed information on pressure, flow and level, attracting groups of children inside Endress+Hauser’s Greenwood facility on a science-based treasure hunt.

3-D printers delicately created plastic figures — a boat, lion and cactus — while onlookers voted for their favorite one. A robotic arm plucked cooked hot dogs from a grill and placed them in a bun for passersby to take.

At Endress+Hauser’s annual Community Career+Education Forum, hundreds of students, parents and educators gathered together in a science and technology wonderland.

“I want to be an engineer. I like STEM and robotics, and like messing around with that stuff,” Anna Peyton, an eighth-grader at Franklin Community Middle School. “It’s been good to learn those opportunities for colleges and businesses that I might be interested in in the future.”

The wide range of potential careers, education and recreation revolving around STEM was on display Thursday during the annual forum. Close to 1,000 students, parents and educators packed into Endress+Hauser for the showcase of science, technology, engineering and math.

They spoke with local manufacturers about career opportunities, learned about degree programs at local colleges and tried hands-on demonstrations of everything from robotics to 3-D printing.

“It’s very interesting to see how things work,” said Mason Simpson, a sixth-grader at Clark-Pleasant Middle School.

The Community Career+Education Forum was founded in 2014 as a way to help schools, students and their families learn what skills employers are looking for in their workers, as well as see the diverse types of careers currently available in advanced manufacturing.

Endress+Hauser partnered with Central Nine Career Center and Aspire Johnson County to create the career forum, which has grown into a key way to foster interest in science and technology in the county.

Nevaeh Manson, a fourth-grader at Isom Elementary, came with her family because her brother is involved in robotics. She took measurements at Endress+Hauser’s process training unit machine, and got to try out a hammer drill and other tools at a booth put together by Ferguson Construction from Columbus

“Now I know how to use a drill,” she said.

Peyton came to the forum on Thursday driven by her love of robotics. She has made her own robot at home, a 4-feet-tall model that can roll along the floor and pick up items.

With that interest in mind, she wanted to learn more about college programs in engineering and what she would need to do in order to make that her career.

“Colleges and businesses are showing us what we have to do, so that’s been good,” she said.

Participants came from all over the region.

Malina Mahurina is a fourth-grader at Sugar Creek Elementary School in New Palestine, who found out about the forum from her grandmother, who works at Endress+Hauser. Her school designates one day a week entirely to STEM activities, and on Thursday, they had built a catapult that she brought along with her to the forum.

That and other experiences made her want to learn more about STEM, she said. She and her mom were working on the process training unit exercise, jotting down measurements and explaining what the numbers meant.

“It’s kind of hard,” she said.

About 20 industry representatives had set up booths to show students how STEM is applicable in their business. Endress+Hauser set up tables showcasing the types of items that automation at their facilities make, everything from water bottles to shampoo containers.

Cummins had gleaming semi trucks parked out front, with the hoods open so people could see how their engines work. Companies such as NSK and Caterpillar put out some of their equipment and let people experience what they do in a hands-on way.

“Our industry partners are really key to this event. This really is a community event, and without them, we wouldn’t be able to show kids the breadth of possibilities,” said Krista Taggart, corporate counsel for Endress+Hauser. “While we host this event, and it’s something we take a lot of pride in, we owe a lot to those partners as well.”

Area schools such as Franklin College, University of Indianapolis and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology distributed information about degree programs and applications of the STEM tracks that they offer.

Franklin and Greenwood city engineering departments displayed information about current and upcoming construction projects, showing kids how STEM is used in real-life situations they can see with their own eyes. The Johnson County Public Library let kids try on virtual reality goggles.

Area robotics teams from schools such as Center Grove, Whiteland, Indian Creek and Greenwood showed off the types of contraptions they make.

Chris Remetta, a seventh grader at Greenwood Middle School, came with his robotics team to let other students know about the robot they’re using this year and what their goals are in competitions this year.

The team has created a robot that moves pieces to specific cargo holds sorted for each different type of item.

“I really like robotics because it incorporates a fair amount of STEM,” he said. “I just like how the teamwork is incorporated into the whole system, and you really use your brain in ways that you wouldn’t be able to in other things.”

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