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STEM Rocks! Rocked

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -  Military families attend the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math event at the Peterson Air and Space Museum, Aug. 29, 2015. The annual event is used to promote STEM through various booths including paper rocket building/launching, a chemistry magic show, a cave simulator, and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Military families attend the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math event at the Peterson Air and Space Museum, Aug. 29, 2015. The annual event is used to promote STEM through various booths including paper rocket building/launching, a chemistry magic show, a cave simulator, and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -  Military families attend the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math event at the Peterson Air and Space Museum, Aug. 29, 2015. This is the fourth year Peterson AFB has held the event and the third year at the Air and Space Museum. The annual event promotes STEM to military children through various booths including paper rocket building/launching, a chemistry magic show, a cave simulator, and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Military families attend the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math event at the Peterson Air and Space Museum, Aug. 29, 2015. This is the fourth year Peterson AFB has held the event and the third year at the Air and Space Museum. The annual event promotes STEM to military children through various booths including paper rocket building/launching, a chemistry magic show, a cave simulator, and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Torrie Sheard and Aurora Mayo prepare their custom designed rocket for launch during the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math event at the Peterson Air and Space Museum, Aug. 29, 2015. Rocket building/launching was one of many activities present at the annual event promoting STEM topics to military children. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Torrie Sheard and Aurora Mayo prepare their custom designed rocket for launch during the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math event at the Peterson Air and Space Museum, Aug. 29, 2015. Rocket building/launching was one of many activities present at the annual event promoting STEM topics to military children. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Ronald Furstenau, U.S. Air Force Academy, teaches military families basic chemistry during his chemistry magic show at the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math event at the Peterson Air and Space Museum, Aug. 29, 2015. The chemistry magic show was one of many topics open to the children during the free annual event including rocket building/launching, a cave simulator, dinosaurs, electricity simulator and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Ronald Furstenau, U.S. Air Force Academy, teaches military families basic chemistry during his chemistry magic show at the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math event at the Peterson Air and Space Museum, Aug. 29, 2015. The chemistry magic show was one of many topics open to the children during the free annual event including rocket building/launching, a cave simulator, dinosaurs, electricity simulator and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – A power line demonstration shows children why birds can safely land on power lines and also the precautions people should take around power lines during the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math event at the Peterson Air and Space Museum, Aug. 29, 2015. The demonstration was one of many at the free annual event promoting STEM including National Forest Service, a cave simulator, dinosaurs and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – A power line demonstration shows children why birds can safely land on power lines and also the precautions people should take around power lines during the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math event at the Peterson Air and Space Museum, Aug. 29, 2015. The demonstration was one of many at the free annual event promoting STEM including National Forest Service, a cave simulator, dinosaurs and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Cadet Tyler Hudson, U.S. Air Force Academy, demonstrates how jet fuel works during the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math event at the Peterson Air and Space Museum, Aug. 29, 2015. Volunteers from Peterson AFB and other surrounding bases came together to make the annual event a success promoting STEM topics through booths demonstrating electricity, mineral mining, rocket launching, dinosaurs and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Cadet Tyler Hudson, U.S. Air Force Academy, demonstrates how jet fuel works during the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math event at the Peterson Air and Space Museum, Aug. 29, 2015. Volunteers from Peterson AFB and other surrounding bases came together to make the annual event a success promoting STEM topics through booths demonstrating electricity, mineral mining, rocket launching, dinosaurs and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Imogen O’Donley looks at a jet fuel simulator demonstrated by U.S. Air Force Academy cadets during the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math event at the Peterson Air and Space Museum, Aug. 29, 2015. The jet fuel simulator was one of many booths at the free annual event including food, mining for minerals, rocket building/launching and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Imogen O’Donley looks at a jet fuel simulator demonstrated by U.S. Air Force Academy cadets during the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math event at the Peterson Air and Space Museum, Aug. 29, 2015. The jet fuel simulator was one of many booths at the free annual event including food, mining for minerals, rocket building/launching and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Debbie Burchfield and her daughter, Kelly, look at small fossils through a microscope during the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math event at the Peterson Air and Space Museum, Aug. 29, 2015. The National Park Service’s fossil demonstration was one of many military and local groups that came together for the free annual event to promote STEM to military families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Debbie Burchfield and her daughter, Kelly, look at small fossils through a microscope during the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math event at the Peterson Air and Space Museum, Aug. 29, 2015. The National Park Service’s fossil demonstration was one of many military and local groups that came together for the free annual event to promote STEM to military families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Military families from all over Colorado made their way to the STEM Rocks! Fair at the Peterson Air and Space Museum on Aug. 29.

Approximately 2500 people came out to the fourth annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Math event on Peterson AFB. This was the third time the Peterson Air and Space Museum hosted the event. There were 25 booths, including organizations like the U.S. Air Force Academy STEM Club, National Park Service, Society of Women Engineers and more.

The attendees got to create and launch rockets, mine for minerals, watch a chemistry magic show, see electricity demonstrations, dinosaur exhibit, indulge in free food, collect swag.

"The purpose of the event is to give military and DoD families an opportunity to get their kids excited about STEM topics," said Gail Whalen, Peterson Air and Space Museum director. "Typically the event is held at the end of summer when vacations are over and school is about to start, getting them energized to learn how fun engineering and math can be and how useful those skills are throughout life. "

During the chemistry magic show, children shot out of their seats to be picked for a demonstration led by Ronald Furstenau, wearing his lab coat with a collection of pins and of course his safety glasses. Parents would also become assistants in his experiments.

The families even experienced demonstrations from Peterson's Military Working Dogs. The crowd laughed and cheered while the K-9 handler praised as his K-9 partner for attacking the trained assistant.

"The event brings various organizations together in one location with the ultimate goal of emphasizing the importance of STEM education to the younger generations," said Capt. Leilani Distaso, National Security Space Institute assistant course director space 200 and STEM Rocks! Fair action officer. "This is the pinnacle point in any child's education where we are able to inspire them to pursue a STEM related education.

"We (society) hold a lot of value in STEM education, not only because it develops our generations to think critically for themselves but for our nation," said Distaso.

In order to make this event so successful the volunteers had to put in a lot of long hours and hard work months before the event, said Whalen.  Many of the volunteers are young officers and enlisted Airman experiencing STEM Rocks! for the first time.

"They get to see their hard work pay off while it's happening," said Whalen. "The big payoff is to see the kids' excitement and the impact they are have. The Airmen are such great role models; it's a real pleasure to see them interact with the families."

Additional partners to the STEM Rocks! Fair were the Peterson Air and Space Museum, the Challenger Learning Center and Lockheed-Martin.

The fair not only promotes STEM to the younger generations but also highlights Peterson's STARBASE program. The program is the only STARBASE in Colorado and one of 58 in 31 states including Puerto Rico, according to the Department of Defense STARBASE website.

"President Obama said it best," Distaso said. "'Science is more than a school subject, or periodic table, or the properties of waves It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world...'"

For more information on how to can get involved with STARBASE and STEM events visit the STARBASE website at http://dodstarbase.org/.

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