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Lots of STEAM

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Micah Cole, 6, of Fort Dodge, reaches out to touch Bud, a Chilean Red Hair tarantula visiting the STEAMfest with the ISU Insect Zoo Saturday afternoon at Iowa Central Community College. His brother, Conner Cole, 4, waits for his turn.

As Paxton Chance, 7, of Fort Dodge sat at the spinning wheel learning how to turn a lump of clay into an object of art from Hope Their, Blanden Memorial Art Museum educator — his mom, Jen Chance, stood a few feet away recording the art lesson on her high tech cell phone.

The recording nicely covered the Arts and the Technology sectors of the STEAMfest held Saturday afternoon in the Career Education Building at Iowa Central Community College.

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

She was enjoying the variety of offerings her son could explore.

“There’s a lot of different activities to try in different fields,” Jen Chance said. “They like exploring and trying new things.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Jen Chance, of Fort Dodge, uses her high tech phone to record her son, Paxton Chance, 7, working at the potter’s wheel with Blanden Memorial Art Museum Educator Hope Thier at the STEAMfest Saturday afternoon in the Career Education Building at Iowa Central Community College.

While he might not realize it yet, his future career path will probably include plenty of tech.

“He wants to join the Army,” she said.

A demonstration of that was available too. The Iowa National Guard had one of their robots on hand and Sgt. First Class Scott Waltzing to show them how to run it.

“It’s the Talon Version 2.0,” he said. “It’s primary use it to dismantle IEDs.”

Waltzing said they can use it for a variety of other tasks, scouting, gathering information and going into places judged too dangerous or risky for soldiers.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
 Zoey Balm, 8, of Fort Dodge drives one of the Fort Dodge Senior High Robotics Team’s robots Saturday afternoon during the STEAMfest at Iowa Central Community College. Team member Ashley Wacholtz, 16, reaches down to make an adjustment.

The version on display Saturday had a video camera and a hand-like attachment that could pick up objects, a variety of which were laying on the floor to challenge users.

“If they’re really good we’ll let them pick up the bolt,” he said.

The Fort Dodge Senior High Robotics Team was on hand with their robots.

Zoey Balm, 7, of Fort Dodge, got to try one.

When she finished going through a short obstacle course, she got something she’d never had before — a robot driving license.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Isabella Morton, 3, of Fort Dodge, under the careful watch of her dad, John Morton, reaches up for a pyramid as Samantha Seaba, 8, of Goldfield, directs the Iowa National Guard robot toward her at the STEAMfest Saturday afternoon in the Career Education Building at Iowa Central Community College. Sgt. First Class Scott Waltzing helps her run the robot.

“It’s easy and hard,” she said.

Her mom, Lisa Balm, was happy to discover something else about the robot, a family connection to her husband, Brian Balm.

“We just learned her dad built some of the parts,” Lisa Balm said.

Ashlyn Wacholtz, 16, is a member of the Robotics Team.

She’s still debating on her career choice but knows that without a good technical grounding, she won’t get far.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Caleigh Klass, 8, of Fort Dodge works on creating a marshmellow and tooth pick molecule Saturday afternoon during the STEAMfest at Iowa Central Community College.

“Technology is definitely in the future,” she said.

Visitors to STEAMfest could explore a variety of fields. There was a chance to make molecules from marshmallow atoms with toothpick bonds. They could create a terrarium and make a cover crop monster seed pod to plant at home, draw fun pictures and solve puzzles. There was even a Lego building station.

There was also a wide selection of living critters some find creepy crawly at the ISU Insect Zoo, including a Chilean Red Hair tarantula named Bud.

Micah Cole, 6, of Fort Dodge, who wore a fake mustache disguise to the event, got to pet the large spider as did his brother, Conner Cole, 4.

Their dad, Sevond Cole, approves of their interest in arachnids.

“He wants to take one home,” Sevond Cole said.

STEAMfest was sponsored by Iowa Central, the Fort Dodge Community School District, city of Fort Dodge and the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council.