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Interactive learning fair opens Saturday at Grand Forks Curling Club

‘Full STEAM Ahead’ event to offer hands-on activities for kids and parents alike

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Becca Baumbach helps her daughter, Juniper, 2, turn a disc to send a brick on a conveyor belt to drop into a bin at the "Full STEAM Ahead" learning fair Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022 at the Grand Forks Curling Club. The Baumbachs, of rural Cummings, North Dakota, were attending a special preview night. The event starts Saturday, Oct. 1 and runs through Sunday, Oct. 9.
Photo by Pamela Knudson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS – An interactive learning fair, “Full STEAM Ahead,” will be held from Saturday, Oct. 1, through Sunday, Oct. 9, at the Grand Forks Curling Club, 1124 Seventh Ave. S. It is free and open to the public.

The activities, spread over more than 6,000 square feet, are designed to increase kids’ interest in and understanding of STEAM fields. STEAM is an acronym for science, technology engineering, art and math.

Hands-on learning stations and special programs will offer activities that both kids and their parents will enjoy, said Sally Miskavige, event organizer and leader of the Center for Exploration project.

“Full STEAM Ahead” has been made possible by the Center for Exploration, a nonprofit group committed to the development of a children’s museum and destination park near Choice Health and Fitness in south Grand Forks.

The learning fair is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and from 4 to 8 p.m. weekdays. It is also open to schools and private groups from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, but time slots for those visits were filled within days after being announced. Miskavige said, regrettably, she’s had to turn away some of those requests, but the response “really emphasizes the need” for this kind of facility.

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“Children learn by experiences,” she said, “so it’s such a great thing to have them have that hands-on experience to really (enhance) their childhood memories.”

Throughout the event, learning stations will be set up to allow kids to explore a wide range of STEAM activities related to construction, earth systems, aeronautics, coding and other topics.

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Members of the UND Advanced Rocketry Club, who will show and describe this rocket, are among many volunteers who will share their knowledge and guide kids through hands-on STEAM experiences at the first Full STEAM Ahead event Oct. 1-9, 2022 at the Grand Forks Curling Club.
Photo by Tim Young

The UND Advanced Rocketry Club is planning to display an eight-foot rocket. The club’s co-presidents Sydney Menne and Ryan Lemker will be on hand, at certain times, to explain its features.

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A rocket will be on display during the Full STEAM Ahead event Oct. 1-9 at the Grand Forks Curling Club. Members of the UND Advanced Rocketry Club will be on hand to describe the rocket's features at various times during the event.
Photo by Tim Young

Special programs, scheduled for specific times, will be available for the exploration of topics such as robotics, coding and paleontology. Volunteers from arts organizations will guide students through music, 3D printing, watercolor painting and ceramic art experiences.

On the weekends, local authors will be on hand to read from children’s books, Miskavige said.

The nine-day event has drawn the interest of and involvement by more than 20 organizations and clubs, whose members have stepped up to volunteer their time, talents and expertise, Miskavige said.

“It just sort of exploded. It’s just been wonderful, with all the different partners. So many people have been volunteering their time,” and companies have provided in-kind donations, she said. “It’s such an excellent energy of people coming together to put on something fantastic for the community.”

“I think the community collaboration is what has excited me most,” Miskavige said. “We have so many amazing people in this community, it’s just unreal.”

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The Operation Exploration committee, which is leading the fund drive for the children’s museum and destination park, is in the silent phase of its capital campaign to raise $30 million for the proposed project on Grand Forks’ south end.

Some committee members were interested in offering some kind of programming for kids, before construction of the children’s museum gets under way, Miskavige said, and the Grand Forks Curling Club facility became available for rent and was suitable for this event.

For the “Full STEAM Ahead” engagement, the Center for Exploration organization has teamed up with key partners, including the Arioso Music Academy, Dakota Science Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Grand Forks and East Grand Forks public libraries, Grand Forks Quilters Club, NDSU 4-H program and others.

Event sponsors include the Myra Foundation, Reichert Law Office, Cirrus Aircraft, Scheels, Xcel Energy, North Dakota Department of Tourism, Grand Forks Park District, Oxford Realty, Opp Construction, ACME Tools, HB Sound & Light, Grand Forks Curling Club, Minnkota Power, Visit Greater Grand Forks, The Little Red Reading Bus, the TAG (The Art of Giving) organization, Arioso Music Academy, and Dakota Science Center.

For more information, contact the Center for Exploration at info@CenterForExploration.com .

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Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at pknudson@gfherald.com or (701) 780-1107.
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