By Andrew Schuler


Jackson County Early College is hosting a STEAM Fair from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, in the Burrell Building at Southwestern Community College.

The event will include demos, displays, hands-on activities and presentations for all ages.

“JCEC and our science students want to encourage people to fall in love with science, technology, engineering, arts and math,” JCEC science teacher Kristin Holt said. “We want to give them a platform to be creative innovators, and that’s what we’re trying to do with this community event.” 

Western Carolina University Chemistry Professor Channa DeSilva will have a booth at the event. He will conduct a Chemistry Magic Show.

“I’m doing this to get students excited about science, but everyone is welcome,” DeSilva said. “The idea behind the Magic Show is to showcase the science happening in your day-to-day life and how it relates to you educationally.”

DeSilva will teach students about the process of polymerization and guide students through a hands-on slime-making activity.

Several other professional booths will be present, including the NASA - Smoky Mountain STEM Collaborative led by Randi Neff and Matt Case. They will provide hands-on activities regarding space and space exploration. On display will be the James Webb Space Telescope.

Hands-on activities will include evaluating sites on the moon for building a habitat for astronauts, digital communication and exploration of Mars.

“In addition to hands-on activities, we will be taking people on a virtual tour of our solar system and out into the surrounding universe using a software program called OpenSpace which was developed by one of our NASA partners,” Neff said. “Students will learn about what we know and what we don’t know. They will get an appreciation for the vastness of space and the tools we have currently to explore space.” 

Several student groups will make presentations. The Elementary/Middle School LEGO League Teams will run an exposition. First Inspires, a global robotics community preparing young people for the future, will organize the LEGO League Exposition.

“We’ll have our robotics table with our LEGO models that our robots will be maneuvering,” said Larissa Miller, the sponsor of the exposition. “For example, this could be pushing the blocks to a designated point on the table or activating a certain switch to make things roll down a hill.”

The JCEC Cooking Club and JCEC’s Student ART-repreneurs will have booths featuring activities and information. 

This will be the first STEAM Night since 2019 due to COVID-19.

Andrew Schuler is a Sylva Herald intern.