STEM Carnival highlights innovation, education

18 Feb 2016 | Lance Cpl. Sean Berry Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune district schools are more engaged than ever in providing students with learning opportunities through the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program.

Johnson Primary School hosted its first-ever STEM Carnival Feb. 18 on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, where students explored multiple exhibits displaying themes such as robotics, computer programming and communication.

"The new common core standards play well into the STEM program, getting these kids more hands-on and more involved, learning how to problem solve more than just memorization," said Kara Fernandez, STEM coordinator for Camp Lejeune district schools. "The world is changing and we need our students to change too."

The STEM Carnival provided a total of 18 stations that parents could visit and see first-hand what their children are engaged in at school. Local service members from Camp Lejeune and Camp Johnson volunteered to help with the event as well as teachers from other district schools.

"We try to teach persistence," said Fernandez. "We teach our students that it’s okay to fail sometimes, some of the best inventions and innovations we’ve had are because students have tried to take a risk."

This idea helped students see a dramatic increase in both science and math testing scores from the beginning of the STEM program to now.

"To be honest, most of our kids won’t have the same type of jobs that we have today," said Fernandez.

With jobs now being related to social media as well as jobs being affected by advancing technology, the STEM program is trying to prepare students for jobs that may not be around just yet.

"I hope people understand that we are trying to inspire the next generation of innovators and inventors," said Fernandez. "We want our students to leave here thinking that they can do the impossible."