Central MA Science Festival picks up steam

LEOMINSTER – It was full STEAM ahead on a sunny Saturday at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster for the fourth annual Central MA Science Festival.

The popular, free event highlights the importance of STEAM-related learning (STEAM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) and there were plenty of hands-on exhibits for the more than 500 visitors who had come through by 1 p.m., with another two hours to go, volunteer Kelly A. Hartnett said.

Among the 35 exhibits were activities and workshops on 3-D printing, robotics, Lego building, aviation, beekeeping, coding, origami, nature crafts and oceanography.

“It is a great event,” Ms. Hartnett said. “Everyone seems super happy and we’ve expanded our exhibits. We also have a lot of repeat exhibitors who have supported us since the beginning.”

Jesse W. Varga, manager at the Caterpillar Lab in Keene, New Hampshire, showed children a “tent” built by Eastern tent caterpillars on a thin branch.

Jacob P. Janssens, robotics competition mentor at the Boys & Girls Club, talked to kids about the robot built by 10 students with mentors’ help. The club’s team, called the Terrorbots, is competing in the world championship for the first time since the program started seven years ago.

Yazmin W. Rios, 26, from Leominster, checked out the team’s arsenal of Terrorbots with her daughters Delaya, 6, and Mayah, 4.

“The kids have never been here before,” she said. “It is interesting. We like it. I would go, again. The girls liked the art workshops more. I like all of them, but one of the exhibits outside with the water was my favorite. I like the texture of it. I think everyone should come because it is really interesting and you can learn a lot.”

Mark D. Ricci of Westminster was driving by the club with his son Cooper A. Ricci, 10, and decided to check it out, he said.

“I like the robots,” Cooper said. “I built a robot last year at my school. We made it out of Legos.” Cooper said he liked the holograms and lasers, too.

The club’s executive director, Donata Martin, said the event grows every year and she is looking at expanding it to two days next year.

As she participated in the “panning for gold” activity with a group of children, she said, “It’s bigger than last year. We want to make it a two-day event next year because 3 o’clock rolls around quickly and everyone hasn’t had a chance to go through all the exhibits yet.”