It was a spectacular convergence of curiosity, creativity, and innovation as more than a hundred young minds embarked on a remarkable journey of discovery during the highly anticipated STEAM Day Camp held at the Lealman Exchange on July 14th. This thrilling gathering, packed with exciting activities and interactive learning experiences, proved to be an absolute delight for children and adults alike.

The Lealman Exchange was transformed into a vibrant hub of intellectual exploration and fun, with various areas dedicated to science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM). The event aimed to engage young minds and nurture their interest in these disciplines through hands-on activities, workshops, and demonstrations.

The Jacobs company was the principal sponsor of the event, along with Pinellas County government and the St. Petersburg Foundation. Hands-on activities were hosted by Jacobs, the Florida Floodplain Managers Association, and the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, which also sponsored t-shirts for the camp participants.

“Jacobs has a long-standing passion for STEAM events and working with our communities,” said Tricia Shuler, a Jacobs employee who volunteered at the event. “We’re really passionate about the Lealman community, so we wanted to meet some of the kids, have a good time, and introduce them to some of the science and engineering we do on a daily basis.”

Jacobs is a science, technology, planning, and engineering company working on regional infrastructure projects, including work at Joe’s Creek adjacent to the Lealman Exchange. More than a dozen Jacobs employees volunteered at the STEAM Day Camp. The passionate professionals became role models, inspiring the young attendees to dream big and pursue their passions.

“At one point, someone came up and said, ‘Do you think the kids are having more fun, or we’re having more fun?’” Shuler laughed. “The volunteers loved it, met a lot of really cute kids, and taught them a few things about science.”

Students from a variety of Lealman-based organizations filled the LEX gymnasium, including summer camp participants from the YMCA, Lealman and Asian Neighborhood Family Center (LANFC), and the Duvall Apartments, whose community director sought out the opportunity for youth residing at the nearby complex. 

At the heart of the event, children found themselves immersed in captivating experiments and exhibits that ignited their curiosity. They eagerly participated in interactive demonstrations showcasing the wonders of physics, chemistry, and biology. In another corner, budding engineers were thrilled to explore the world of engineering through interactive workshops and building challenges.

“It was really fun and I learned a lot of new things,” said Rebecca Berdufi, a LANFC day camper and STEAM Day participant. “My favorite part was learning about sharks and minnows. In a classroom, you just get a piece of paper and a pencil! Today, I got to run around and play.”

The event ended with a free pizza lunch and a STEAM Science Bowl, where kids could compete in a Trivial Pursuit-style competition to share what they learned. The STEAM Day Camp is one way the Lealman community is coming together to provide an engaging, interactive platform for young learners, nurturing a future generation of critical thinkers, problem solvers, and innovators.

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