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      iExplorer Stem Festival aims to involve younger students in STEM subjects

      The iExplorer STEM Festival was held today at the Rural Health Center at Indian Hills Community College.

      The festival is part of Governor Branstad's STEM initiative focusing on students getting more involved in science, technology, engineering, and math careers.

      Students in grades 3 through 8 from all over Southeast Iowa attended the event.

      The festival featured 30 booths such as John Deere and IHCC's Robotics Program.

      Hands-on activities were offered at these booths.

      They also explained skills needed for these careers to the students.

      The goal was to encourage students at a younger age to be involved with the STEM subjects.

      "So our hope is that by allowing them the opportunity to explore those careers and hands-on activities will get them engaged," said IHCC Director of High school Programs Karen Swanson. "And make sure that they keep moving through school and taking those courses that will lead them to great careers in those areas."

      This was the first year the festival was held in Ottumwa.

      The event hopes to continue and grow in the future.