THA STEM, health fests to offer fun, knowledge

Cuddle a cockroach, go nose to nose with a skunk, or fly a drone. It’s kids’ choice at Tucson Hebrew Academy’s 4th Annual STEM Festival, Sunday, March 18. STEM encompasses science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The free, family fun fair will offer 50 different exhibits with hands-on activities or demonstrations.

“This year’s festival promises to be the biggest and best,” says Jennifer Lehrfeld, THA STEM coordinator and science department head. “To double the fun, we’ve partnered with the THA Health & Wellness Fair to bring even more great hands-on experiences.” Among health highlights are a glow-germ experiment to see how germs are spread and hands-on cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training. Participants also can learn about the technology behind laser dentistry and visit a wellness center for free health screenings.

New this year is an air and space experience. With actual aircraft on site, experts will explain the basics of flight with a 40-foot glider and a Cessna aircraft. SkyPod Images will demonstrate aerial views from drones and offer hands-on drone flight experience. Southern Arizona Rocketry Association will launch rockets throughout the day following the morning build-and-fly rocketry workshop. The Lunar & Planetary Laboratory and the OSIRIS-REX Mission staff will detail how asteroid Bennu was reached and surface samples collected.

Many of last year’s popular exhibitors are returning, says Lehrfeld. The Center for Neurosciences Foundation will bring its Brain Bus and the Tucson Reptile Museum will have critters to view and hold. The Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum has free animal shows and a marine booth with a shark. The Three Ring Lab demonstrates 3-D printing, chemistry magic and allows kids to hold cockroaches and read with butterflies. Glass-blowing, robotics, solar cooking, wildlife, rocks and minerals are also in store for fairgoers.

The fair will be held on the THA campus, 3888 E. River Road. It runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but there is a build-and-fly rocketry workshop at 9 a.m. for the first 25 children who pre-register. For more information, visit thastem.com/stem-festival.