VALPARAISO | Steven Byers was in seventh grade at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Valparaiso when he developed an avid interest in science, engineering and math.
The 21-year-old is now a junior at Valparaiso University majoring in mechanical engineering and was part of a team that created robots that can do different tasks, such as play basketball or football. With technology moving at a fast pace, Byers one day wants to create medical robot that can conduct surgical procedures.
"I was in Science Olympiad at middle school and worked on a project where I researched how disease is spread. I became interested in robotics in high school when I joined the robotics team," he said before explaining robotics to Valparaiso school students.
Byers participated in STEAM Day on Saturday. Students from fourth grade and up, along with teachers, parents and guardians engaged in sessions where they learned about projects in science, technology, engineering, art and math.
Olga Granat and Cynthia Svilar are the technology integration specialists in the Valparaiso schools who organized the event at Ben Franklin Middle School. They work with teachers and students throughout the district to introduce technology to students.
Jessica Corral and her daughter Jaelynne, a Chesterton Middle School eighth-grader, listened to the presentation on 3D design.
"This is really like using a hot glue gun to create a 3D design," said Corral, who is also an art teacher in the Valparaiso Community School Corp.
"I think it's important to push STEAM to girls. Art is part of STEAM. It's not just a gender-related topic," she said.
Jaelynne, who likes to draw and was working on a template for a Koi fish, said she was enjoying STEAM Day.
"This is pretty cool," she said. "I want to be an artist or a veterinarian."