NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Steven showed a steady hand and nerves of steel as he guided the tweezers upward, clenching tightly to the patient's funny bone.

After the successful operation, the third-grader was asked if he wanted to be a surgeon someday.

"I am a surgeon," he declared. " I just performed surgery."

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Being a surgeon takes a lot more than being good at a board game such as Operation.

But you could end up being a surgeon, a dentist, a pilot or any number of exciting professions if you keep up with your STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) studies.

That was one of the big messages for the hundreds of elementary school students from across the district who descended on McKinley School on Saturday.

One of the goals of Self-eSTEAMfest was to connect the subjects the students are studying such as coding and mathematics and connect them with real-world careers.

"Thinking about someone who might want to go into aviation," said McKinley Principal Janene Rodriguez. "Yes, there's a lot of math in being able to fly and piloting. But how do you take that passion and put it into medicine as an EMT? I think for me the big purpose for this is getting students to see that it's not just doctors and mathematicians. There are so many careers. There's a plethora of things that they can do in the STEAM field and this is just a way to make it fun."

To that end, the producer/sponsor/host of the event, the Raritan Valley Chapter of The Links, helped pack the school with exhibits. In the gym, a technician explained all about X-rays and a dietitian demonstrated the dangers of drinking sugary sodas and juices. There were displays about filter water, reusing plastics and the importance of brain safety - always wear a helmet while riding a bike!

Down the hallways, the classes were filled with other Self-eSTEAMfest exhibits. There were chinchillas and porcupines in one classroom, and representatives from the George Street Playhouse showed the importance of letting your imagination run wild.

The 200 or so students, along with their parents and faculty, then headed out to the blacktop behind the school. They watched as a medical helicopter landed in the field behind the school.

There were gasps and cheers as it slowly touched down.

"That's what I want to be when I grow up," said Shawn, a third-grader. "I want to be a pilot. I want to fly around and help people and save lives."

The producer/sponsor/host of the event, the Raritan Valley Chapter of The Links, can be reached at

the presenting organization, the Health and Human Services Facet of the Raritan Valley Chapter of Links Incorporated. They weren’t referenced in the article, and seem to think we prepared and sent out informational content without mentioning them.