Students from Woodland Elementary School presented their STEAM projects involving coding and robotics. Woodland became a STEM certified school in 2016. (Bob Pepalis)

Student exhibitors and corporate sponsors presented many hands-on exhibits at the Sandy Springs Education Force STEAM Showcase held at North Springs High School.

A reception honored the dozens of sponsors for the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) Showcase and supporters of Sandy Springs Education Force. The sponsors help fund the programs, grants and other initiatives of the organization.

Sandy Springs City Councilmember Melody Kelley, who also is a Sandy Springs Education Force board member, walked around and spoke with exhibitors at the March 15 event. She said it hit her how important STEM and STEAM are to young people to engage their interests as early as possible.

Northside Hospital’s Mark Rosenthal receives a recognition award from Sandy Springs Education Force Executive Director Irene Schweiger for Northside’s participation as a sponsor. (Bob Pepalis)

“The most important thing you could do when you leave here is to go downstairs and see those kids because this is what it’s all about,” Sandy Springs Education Force Executive Director Irene Schweiger said.

Students created exhibits on robotics, solar energy, health care and other STEAM topics.

Mark Rosenthal, Human Resources Operations manager at Northside Hospital, said the event helps the hospital develop its future with an emphasis on science and education. Northside was one of the major sponsors of the event. It enables the children to spread their wings and develop into their future, he said.

“When I look across this room today, I see a Sandy Springs Education Force that works in tandem on purposeful programming for our students from when they’re two foot tall, all the way to when they’re six foot tall, FCS Chief Academic Officer Cliff Jones said during a sponsors’ reception.

Georgia Tech Research Institute was one of the sponsors and exhibitors. Senior Research Scientist Jack Wood said the institute gets some state funding for STEM development in grades K-12. This enables them to offer teacher professional development, hire high school interns over the summer to come work in their laboratories, and to take demonstrations to schools and science festivals to get kids excited about science.

“It opens up students to a good future, and good career options that they should be considering if they’re not, and then empowers them a little bit with some knowledge and some cool gee whiz demonstrations to spark their interest,” he said.

Greg Willingham, senior building superintendent with McCarthy Building Companies, said it was important for the company to be at the STEAM Showcase to invest in the future of the company. His company was reaching out to show where the innovation is in construction, in hopes of making an impression on some of the students so that they’ll want to go into construction.

North Springs High students Henry Lott, foreground, Aiden Neuser and Kingsley Amponsah presented a robotics exhibit at the STEAM Showcase. (Bob Pepalis)

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.