In an effort to celebrate the importance of science, technology engineering and math, the families of Will Rogers Learning Community gathered Tuesday night for the school’s annual STEM Expo featuring exhibitions, interactive activities and other science-related fun.

Event organizers said the expo has been held for more than a dozen years, and this year’s event happened to occur on the same day fellow SMMUSD schools Samohi and Malibu High School were named some of the top STEM schools in the nation.

Though the night sky was too cloudy to engage in any moon-gazing, attendees still had plenty of fun as they ventured around the school amazed by the various technologies and sciences on display.

One organization had a 3D printer on-hand alongside a representative who explained the science behind the machine and the materials it was shaping. Local children and parents also had the opportunity to build paper rockets that were then launched into the air using nothing more than PVC piping, an old soda bottle and a couple of jumping toddlers.

Adults exclaiming “Wow!” was common throughout the night as was the smiling faces of students, who skipped a night of video games for the chance to play with microscopes.

“This is important because — one — students are learning but they’re having a ton of fun,” said Lisa Simon, a STEM and International Baccalaureate coordinator at Will Rogers.

Simon added the event allows children to explore the topics and phenomenons they’re naturally curious about and, at the same time, parents are able to see what children are working on in class.

“It’s a family uniting event,” the STEM coordinator said, pointing at a cafeteria full of siblings and grandparents.

The expo used to have a format similar to a traditional science fair but it was changed to allow Will Rogers’ young scholars more opportunities to be actively involved in the learning process, Simon said. “In a format like this, the kids are doing hands-on activities while learning about balanced and unbalanced forces, or animal adaptations, robotics and muscle strength.”

Parent Sophia Loukaides was one of many in attendance Tuesday night who was impressed by the displays.

“That’s exactly why I chose this school because it’s offering things I feel are necessary for success,” Loukaides said. “Our kids are going to learn how to save this world and that’s basically what this is preparing them for. Programs like these give them the critical thinking skills that are needed for the future.”

Loukaides said she hopes to one day see interactive activities like the ones on display Tuesday find a place in the educational system and possibly replace the standard homework assignments that she had to suffer through as a child.

“Not every student learns in a standard way, so having things like these programs integrated into the school system would help teachers and students thrive I think,” Loukaides said. “The kids wouldn’t look at it as homework anymore. It would be fun and games with their family but they’d still be getting the tools they desperately need.”

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