Florida Panhandle Technical College introduces young students to STEM

CHIPLEY, Fla (WTVY) - Instead of reaching for their textbooks, Vernon Middle School sixth graders went up, up, and away on Tuesday to learn more about science, technology, engineering, and math-- or STEM.

"It just seems really interesting that we can take sheets of metal and other materials and we can actually make it move like drones,” says Alice Copp, sixth grader. “Drones are fun!"

They rotated around different stations at the college, conducting experiments in robotics, 3D printing, and everyone's favorite--

"We made rockets out of straws and just paper and we had to shoot it,” describes student Renecia Hogans.

Plus, the launch had an extra bonus--

"We got candy afterwards."

The technical college knows just how important it is to get kids interested in these fields at a young age.

"Our workforce needs skilled STEM employees,” says Kathy Nelson, STEM coordinator at Florida Panhandle Technical College.

And hands-on learning makes all the difference.

"They understand why they need to learn that math,” says Nelson. “It makes a difference when they're doing robotics, when they're doing rocketry, they understand those concepts. They understand the value of science."

Days like this have these students already thinking ahead to life after graduation.

"I might can go to college some day,” says student Beau Brackin.

For others, admittedly, it's just nice to get out and see some sunshine.

"You're not sitting down and listening to your teachers all day,” says student Tanner Kennedy.

Though these kids may not be flying to the mars any time soon, the STEM fields have them dreaming about the future, where the sky's the limit.