First Southside STEAM expo held at fairgrounds

by Celia Shortt


Craig Exner, fifth grade teacher at Moreland Elementary School and member of the Coweta County Explorers 4-H Club, helps a student with a battlebot during the 2014 Southside STEAM Expo. 

Earlier this month, Odyssey Charter School and Coweta County 4-H held the first Southside STEAM Expo at the Coweta County Fairgrounds.

STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Its goal is to expose students to skills and career fields that are expected to be in higher demand in the coming years.

The expo was organized by Odyssey parent Jennifer Petrino.

“Our goal for the expo was to create an enthusiasm for STEAM,” she said. “We wanted the kids to have fun and we wanted them to connect what they are learning in school with real-world jobs.”

“Too often, we hear kids say, ‘I will never need to know this for the rest of my life!’” she added. “The fact of the matter is they will need knowledge in the STEAM subjects to succeed in the careers of the future.”

To help create that enthusiasm, the expo featured 24 booths with interactive activities from organizations like the National Weather Service, Atlanta Science Festival, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, and the Centers for Disease Control.

All 650 attendees were able to take part in educational activities at all the booths. Some activities included making slime with Big Thinkers Science Exploration, solving a pottery puzzle at the Society for Georgia Archeology Booth, and seeing live animals brought from Zoo Atlanta and the Cochran Mill Nature Center.

“The best part of the day was watching children pull their parents from station to station,” said attendee Teresa Gibson of the event. “The interactive experience for the children and their parents was great fun.”

Another attendee, Kim Van Veghten, said her kids enjoyed the hands-on activities and their favorites were the booths by Odyssey and Big Thinkers Science.

The booths were not the only part of the expo, as live events took place throughout the day. These included live experiments from Big Thinkers Science Exploration, performances from the Odyssey School Glee Club and Odyssey School Advanced Band.

Coweta County 4-H had a booth at the expo in which they had “Battlebots” demonstrations. In these demonstrations, kids could fight robots against each other. The booth also had information about injection sites for livestock.

“(The expo) is a great opportunity to promote a mutual goal, and provide hands on learning opportunities to youth of all ages,” said Rachel Fautsch, Coweta County’s 4-H agent.

Odyssey Charter School is a free public charter school serving approximately 405 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is in its 10th year and is currently a candidate for SACS accreditation through AdvancED. Coweta County’s 4-H program has nearly 2000 members and focuses on STEAM programming throughout the year.

This expo was a joint project between the two organizations, and they hope to make it a yearly event.

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