MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Thousands of middle school students spent Wednesday with robots and rockets as part of the STEM Expo at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Students had an opportunity to explore careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, while having fun.

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Rows of experiments and booths lined the convention center to show sixth graders that what they’ve been learning in the classroom can one day be their career.

“Part of the sixth-grade curriculum is learning about science and engineering and how they play with each other,” said Keven Tell, a middle school science teacher. “So this is a natural extension of that.”

While the students had a lot of fun learning about the jobs, their enthusiasm is also in high demand.

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In STEM occupations, job postings outnumber applicants nearly 2-to-1 and that is only expected to grow.

“We can talk about engineering, we can talk about physics in the classroom, but until you actually see it with your own eyes and are experiencing it, it really doesn’t connect,” Tell said. “That’s why having opportunities like this is good for kids.”

Maybe the hardest part is getting the students to wait until graduation.

“I feel like when I get back to class, I’m going to hear all sorts of wonderful things about how this could be possibly something they could when they’re adults,” Tell said.

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STEM jobs are expected to be in even higher demand by the year 2020. Wednesday’s event was a chance to expose students early to careers they may be interested in.