BILLINGS — Billings kids two-years and older explored new skills in a fun way, learning aspects of science, technology, engineering, art and math at SteamFest in the Billings Depot Sunday.
"What we wanted to do is just really give kids an exciting, enjoyable day to experiment and play and find out what really interests them," said Billings Depot executive director Michelle Williams.
SteamFest is in its second year. Williams said the event started in 2018 with four local nonprofits coming together to spark a love of learning with Billings kids.
In 2019, Williams said SteamFest is better than ever, hosting activities from STEM Billings, Exxon Mobile, Home Science Tools, Girl Scouts, Big Sky Economic Development, Wise Wonders Children's Museum, SCRaP, Valley Credit Union and the MSUB math department.
Big Sky Economic Development taught kids about the density of objects with a simple scale.
Karen Baumgart is the director of the development group's entrepreneurial incubation space. She said events like SteamFest help develop the state's workforce.
“It’s really about letting kids explore and have fun," Baumgart said. "There’s no one right answer. It’s really about problem solving and thinking outside of the box and creating a space where our kids can do that. And they get excited about it, build their confidence and then to tell them, hey you can do this as a career, is a really fun connection for us for workforce development.”
The activities are designed to have elements of problem solving that are disguised as a fun game or challenge. The goal is to spark kids interest, so that someday that interest may evolve into a career path.
"We know that our employers need talent who can think critically, who can do problem solving, who can be innovative," Baumgart said. "And what better then the science, technology, engineering, arts, and math industries and skill sets to kind of spur innovation and creativity.”
Kids agree, the activities at SteamFest are a good time.
"I'm ready for science, and I love science," said David Dailey, a young SteamFest participant. "Every science experiment is different, and some are poisonous. Everything around here is kind of cool."
Depot director Michelle Williams said the admission cost of $18 per child went back to the nonprofit organizations participating in SteamFest.