More than 600 students took part in hands-on STEM experiments – and smashed a few melons – at the second annual First City Science Fair at the University of Saint Mary.

Wednesday’s day-long affair included students from Patton Junior High School, Richard Warren Middle School and Lansing Middle School.

More than a dozen 35-minute STEM sessions were offered to the students, who chose three to attend.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

The seminars included lessons about bone structures, DNA analysis, telemedicine, space-based technology, drones, crime scene investigations, aquaponics, robots and much more.

There also was a class about concussions and how to prevent them. In that class, Dr. Mark Weiss asked students to put a safety helmet on a melon, then slam the melon into a children’s play pool in a second floor classroom at Miege Hall.

“You might want to stand back a little,” Weiss said to a visitor. “This gets a little messy.”

The science fair is an annual production of the Rotary Club of Leavenworth.

“We’ve had great response from the schools,” said Matt Nojonen, director of the Leavenworth Public Library. “The state Rotary saw the value of STEM and asked all of the local clubs to take up the challenge.”

Nojonen is one of the organizers of the science fair. He said surveys from last year’s event revealed that the students wanted longer sessions and more hands-on activities.

“So that’s what we tried to do this year,” he said.

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