Bexley's first Community Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Fair was a hive of activity Sunday, April 26, at Bexley High School.

Bexley's first Community Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Fair was a hive of activity Sunday, April 26, at Bexley High School.

At one end, children were rummaging through recycled Pringles cans, muffin tins and various cardboard boxes as they constructed towers, bridges and other creations. Nearby, nimble hands assembled toothpicks and mini-marshmallows into intricate configurations.

Across the gymnasium, the Columbus School for Girls' Robotics Team worked on a giant robot that tossed Frisbees into the air. In the far corner, Bexley Middle School's Legocy team demonstrated their Lego creations used in competition earlier this year.

The purpose of the event was twofold, according to organizers.

"There are multiple STEM initiatives going on in the community, and recognizing that none of us are an island was very important," said Angela Siefer, a parent organizer and event volunteer. "We needed to cross-pollinate, and this seemed the perfect forum in which to do that."

But the fair was also meant to bring in new participants, and show community members and students all that area STEM programs and clubs have to offer.

Adrienne Gladish, whose first-grade son, Solomon, belongs to the STEM Club at Montrose Elementary School, came by to find out what other opportunities are being offered at the older levels.

"He got Logos for a birthday or Christmas and he just jumped in," she said of her son's early interest.

"Maybe he'll be an inventor someday, or create something that will do good for our society," she added.

Jeanette Kuder, a language arts and gifted teacher in Bexley and co-organizer of the event, said exposing children to STEM initiatives early gives them a head start in some of the most demanding career fields in today's world. Reaching girls at an early age is even more important, she said.

"Because if we don't get them before middle school, they tend to be turned off to these things," she added.

Katie Watsko, a senior at CSG and one of three captains on the school's Robotics Team, is a perfect example. A resident of Westerville, she decided to attend CSG, in part, for its STEM programming.

"I didn't want to be on a team where the girls just sat around and watched. So I knew if I went to CSG, I would have the opportunity to do things like this," Watsko said.

She said she doesn't judge the team's success by the number of trophies it brings home, but by the immense amount of experience each girl gets on the team, which is very hands-on and inclusive.

Some 16 clubs, programs and agencies were represented at Sunday's event.

One group, the Bexley Education Foundation, was on hand to promote efforts to raise $10,000 by May 31 for STEM programs, projects and initiatives in Bexley City Schools. Bexley's public library also manned a booth touting new programs there that support STEM initiatives.

Demonstrations in various classrooms throughout the afternoon gave students insight on what area schools have to offer: Invention Convention and Destination Imagination activities, robotics clubs and Lego programs.

"We have all the stages in place now in Bexley," Kuder said.

STEM club programming starts as early as kindergarten, and continues into high school. Most programs, she said, were initiated by parents and teachers.

Projects range from robotics to building a green roof above the high school softball dugout. Little hands often work with Legos, while bigger hands work with everything from gears to electronics to software.

Both Siefer and Kuder hope the event will be even bigger and better next year.