HUNTERSVILLE – Many students in Susan Thomasson’s Mountain Is­land Elementary fifth-grade class let their mouths hang open with wonder as WCNC Meteorologist John Wendel demonstrated how to get a hard-boiled egg into a jar with a small opening.

Wendel dropped a lit match in the bottom of the jar. A student placed the egg over the opening. The egg began to slightly shake before it began to slide downward and drop to the bottom of the jar.

Smiles formed on students’ faces. Their giggles released the silent ten­sion.

Wendel used the activ­ity to explain pressure and how the air took up more room when it was heated with a match because it expanded. But once the match went out, the air contracted, taking up less room, which created lower pressure inside the jar than outside of it. That forced the egg to get sucked inside the jar.

Wendel then spoke about weather and how it is affected by pressure.

His weather table was among 22 pre­sentations at this year’s STEM Inter­active Learning Fair, held by Catawba River District and UNC Charlotte Cen­ter for STEM Education. The fair took place Sept. 27 at Duke Energy’s Explo­rium.

Thomasson’s students were some of the more than 500 fifth-graders par­ticipating in this year’s fair.

Students participated in various hands-on activities regarding water quality, air quality, energy, recycling, wildlife and river creatures.

This was the third year for the Ca­tawba River District to hold the fair. It’s a way for the Catawba River District to help educate young people on how to treat a sustainable place, President Bill Daleure said.

“When you talk about the STEM education push that’s going on in our country right now … we find that if you teach children by showing them, letting them touch it and experience it, they don’t forget,” he said.

Thomasson said the hands-on experi­ences help student retain information. Learning lessons from experts in STEM fields, she added, allows students to learn about future job possibilities.

“This is like the most awesome expe­rience because it’s connecting to what we’re doing in our science lab in the classroom, but it’s above what we’ve been able to bring in the classroom,” Thomasson said. “It’s just a great ex­perience for them to learn about other professions … I wish all kids could have this opportunity.”

Lia Easton, a student in Thomasson’s class, said she re­ally enjoyed Wendel’s weather table and his demonstration on how to catch rain drops in flour, scoop them out with a spoon and measure them.

“It was a fun experience,” she said of the fair as a whole. “It’s the best way to be able to learn things.”