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STEM Rocks!

Kadin McSpadden wears a lighted helmet and other safety gear as he explores a 60 foot cave simulator complete with stalagtites and stalagmites during STEM Rocks! The festival was held at the Peterson Air and Space Museum Aug. 24 and included hands-on activities for kindergarten to eighth graders. Some of the activities involved making slime, crawling through caves, launching rockets, building gliders, electricity demonstrations, and more interactive demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Craig Denton)

Kadin McSpadden wears a lighted helmet and other safety gear as he explores a 60 foot cave simulator complete with stalagtites and stalagmites during STEM Rocks! The festival was held at the Peterson Air and Space Museum Aug. 24, 2013, and included hands-on activities for kindergarten to eighth graders. Some of the activities involved making slime, crawling through caves, launching rockets, building gliders, electricity demonstrations, and more interactive demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Craig Denton)

Airman 1st Class Andrew Umbel, 21st Communications Squadron, fits Kadin McSpadden with a helmet and other safety gear for the cave simulator at STEM Rocks! The festival was held at the Peterson Air and Space Museum Aug. 24 and included hands-on activities for kindergarten to eighth graders. Some of the activities involved making slime, crawling through caves, launching rockets, building gliders, electricity demonstrations, and more interactive demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Craig Denton)

Airman 1st Class Andrew Umbel, 21st Communications Squadron, fits Kadin McSpadden with a helmet and other safety gear for the cave simulator at STEM Rocks! The festival was held at the Peterson Air and Space Museum Aug. 24, 2013, and included hands-on activities for kindergarten to eighth graders. Some of the activities involved making slime, crawling through caves, launching rockets, building gliders, electricity demonstrations, and more interactive demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Craig Denton)

Senior Airman David Hartman, 21st Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight, shows Louis Glunta how to control the EOD robot arm during STEM Rocks! There was also a demonstration that showed how strong the grip was on the robot. The festival was held at the Peterson Air and Space Museum Aug. 24 and included hands-on activities for kindergarten to eighth graders. Some of the activities involved making slime, crawling through caves, launching rockets, building gliders, electricity demonstrations, and more interactive demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Craig Denton)

Senior Airman David Hartman, 21st Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight, shows Louis Glunta how to control the EOD robot arm during STEM Rocks! There was also a demonstration that showed how strong the grip was on the robot. The festival was held at the Peterson Air and Space Museum Aug. 24, 2013, and included hands-on activities for kindergarten to eighth graders. Some of the activities involved making slime, crawling through caves, launching rockets, building gliders, electricity demonstrations, and more interactive demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Craig Denton)

Lin Foulk assists Gabriel Foulk as he carefully pilots an aircraft high above the clouds during STEM Rocks! The festival was held at the Peterson Air and Space Museum Aug. 24 and included hands-on activities for kindergarten to eighth graders. Some of the activities involved making slime, crawling through caves, launching rockets, building gliders, electricity demonstrations, and more interactive demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Craig Denton)

Lin Foulk assists Gabriel Foulk as he carefully pilots an aircraft high above the clouds during STEM Rocks! The festival was held at the Peterson Air and Space Museum Aug. 24, 2013, and included hands-on activities for kindergarten to eighth graders. Some of the activities involved making slime, crawling through caves, launching rockets, building gliders, electricity demonstrations, and more interactive demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Craig Denton)

Capt. Walter Darnell, U.S. Air Force Academy, and Capt. Malgorzata Darnell, Air Force Space Command, assist their daughter with a test flight of her balsa wood glider that she assembled at STEM Rocks! The festival was held at the Peterson Air and Space Museum Aug. 24 and included hands-on activities for kindergarten to eighth graders. Some of the activities involved making slime, crawling through caves, launching rockets, building gliders, electricity demonstrations, and more interactive demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Craig Denton)

Capt. Walter Darnell, U.S. Air Force Academy, and Capt. Malgorzata Darnell, Air Force Space Command, assist their daughter with a test flight of her balsa wood glider that she assembled at STEM Rocks! The festival was held at the Peterson Air and Space Museum Aug. 24, 2013, and included hands-on activities for kindergarten to eighth graders. Some of the activities involved making slime, crawling through caves, launching rockets, building gliders, electricity demonstrations, and more interactive demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Craig Denton)

Rhyan Brennan checks out some oobleck at STEM Rocks! Oobleck feels like a solid but also feels like a liquid and can be made by mixing equal amounts of water and corn starch together, and then adding a little food coloring. The festival was held at the Peterson Air and Space Museum Aug. 24 and included hands-on activities for kindergarten to eighth graders. Some of the activities involved making slime, crawling through caves, launching rockets, building gliders, electricity demonstrations, and more interactive demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Craig Denton)

Rhyan Brennan checks out some oobleck at STEM Rocks! Oobleck feels like a solid but also feels like a liquid and can be made by mixing equal amounts of water and corn starch together, and then adding a little food coloring. The festival was held at the Peterson Air and Space Museum Aug. 24, 2013, and included hands-on activities for kindergarten to eighth graders. Some of the activities involved making slime, crawling through caves, launching rockets, building gliders, electricity demonstrations, and more interactive demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Craig Denton)

2nd Lt. Michael Hintzman, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, aims a large telescope at the sun while Melisa Hernandez-Morales holds Elienid Rivera up to view the sun through a special filter at STEM Rocks! The festival was held at the Peterson Air and Space Museum Aug. 24 and included hands-on activities for kindergarten to eighth graders. Some of the activities involved making slime, crawling through caves, launching rockets, building gliders, electricity demonstrations, and more interactive demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Craig Denton)

2nd Lt. Michael Hintzman, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, aims a large telescope at the sun while Melisa Hernandez-Morales holds Elienid Rivera up to view the sun through a special filter at STEM Rocks! The festival was held at the Peterson Air and Space Museum Aug. 24, 2013, and included hands-on activities for kindergarten to eighth graders. Some of the activities involved making slime, crawling through caves, launching rockets, building gliders, electricity demonstrations, and more interactive demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Craig Denton)

Madison Nichols learns about basic chemistry and the density of liquids at STEM Rocks! At the exhibit, Nichols learned about the interaction of oil, tap water and food coloring. The festival was held at the Peterson Air and Space Museum Aug. 24 and included hands-on activities for kindergarten to eighth graders. Some of the activities involved making slime, crawling through caves, launching rockets, building gliders, electricity demonstrations, and more interactive demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Craig Denton)

Madison Nichols learns about basic chemistry and the density of liquids at STEM Rocks! At the exhibit, Nichols learned about the interaction of oil, tap water and food coloring. The festival was held at the Peterson Air and Space Museum Aug. 24, 2013, and included hands-on activities for kindergarten to eighth graders. Some of the activities involved making slime, crawling through caves, launching rockets, building gliders, electricity demonstrations, and more interactive demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Craig Denton)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- About 2,000 parents and children came out to launch rockets, make slime, and drive miniature underwater rovers at the STEM Rocks! event at the Peterson AFB Museum Aug. 24.

The STEM Rocks! event, based on a curriculum found in many schools, is designed to show children how fun and exciting the worlds of science, technology, engineering and math can be.

Tech. Sgt. Glen Kirkham, STEM Rocks! lead coordinator, explained that events like this are important because of the exposure children have to the various scientific fields.

"You teach them that they have these different avenues to learn and that they can apply them to be able to solve things, from life's little intricacies to major things like getting to space," said Kirkham.

Kirkham also stated that children who are interested in STEM could be the ones who grow up to make the world a better place for everyone.

"They're going to grow up and be exposed to those sorts of things and be able to get involved in different areas that are going to better our communities," Kirkham said.

"When you have children who are versed in (many areas of STEM), they can see the big picture, which is what we need in today's Air Force," he added.

Kirkham explained that as a parent, events like STEM Rocks! help him to encourage his children to explore new things.

"As a parent, my job is to expose my children to as much as possible so that they can find their niche and I can help them exploit that as much as possible," said Kirkham. "That's what I see this event doing, exposing kids to as much as possible so that they can find their niche."

Col. David Jeffery, Northern Command J-38 chief, Contingency Operations Division, spent the day with his nine-year-old twins who were captivated by the myriad exhibits.

"It was awesome! My son and daughter absolutely loved it," Jeffery said.

"They loved the flight simulator and building the rockets, and especially the explanations the Air Force Academy cadets and other volunteers gave them," said Jeffery.

"All of the volunteers and people manning the booths were so energetic and got (the kids) excited about all of this stuff," Jeffery added. "They just had fun. They didn't even realize they were learning."

STEM subjects are important to the country and the Air Force future.

"This was an excellent event and I applaud those who organized it," said Col. John Shaw, 21st Space Wing commander. "STEM subjects are vital to our high-tech Air Force, and inspiring interest in these subjects with today's youth is key for our Air Force and nation tomorrow."

Shaw attended the event and said he was impressed with the wide variety of activities and educational opportunities available.

Another major contributor to the day's events was Tech. Sgt. Karmann Pogue, STEM Rocks! marketing team lead.

"A big part was ensuring we got the message out about the STEM Rocks! event to the entire community that Peterson touches," said Pogue. "Our main focus was getting the word out to the kids and adults so they know that there is this fun science, technology, engineering and math event."

Pogue, with children of her own, confessed she and her kids were equally excited about the event.

"As a parent, I'm excited to bring my kids! It's about planting seeds and getting kids excited about their future," said Pogue. "Small events like this can plant the seed and have huge payoffs in the future."

"Think about it, kids are playing with Legos, they're engineering something, they're building," said Pogue. "The kids playing with Legos today ... could be our future architects; kids playing with slime could be our future chemists who may find the cure for cancer."

Pogue said that events like STEM Rocks! are important because they help children kindle new interests in the subject.

"We want the kids to get involved because if they can touch and see and play and destroy, they're going to want to know the inner workings of something and how things work," said Pogue.

"Our future is our kids," she added. "If we're getting (our kids) excited in this then it's going to make them stronger, our future stronger, America stronger ... if they can contribute back in the STEM arenas."

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