AVON PARK — Heartland area high school students tackled some chemistry experiments, learned about anatomy and physiology and delved into more in the sciences Saturday at South Florida State College.  

The students were participating in one of the monthly forums that are a part of The Heartland Educational Consortium STEM Scholars Program.

STEM Scholars is a science, technology, engineering & mathematics (STEM) enrichment program to meet the educational needs of the gifted and talented high school students in grades nine through 12 in the Consortium's member districts of DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands and Okeechobee counties.

Saturday's focus at SFSC was on sciences and mechatronics.

Consortium STEM Coordinator Lisa Shin said about 90 students from the Consortium's six districts were at the forum to get to see how STEM is used in the real world.

SFSC chemistry instructor Kate Calvin said the students were doing chemistry experiments on the reaction to copper. 

They have copper sulfate and it has just been converted into copper 2 oxide, the black stuff, she said referring to substance in the students' beakers.

Okeechobee High School sophomore Damans Olivera said she joined the STEM program this year and this was her first STEM forum.

"It's cool; I like it; We are pretty active here," she said.

The goal of the HEC STEM program is to better prepare students to be competitive in the global economy. 

The HEC STEM program includes forums at colleges, universities and other locations, that are held on Saturdays that include hands-on breakout sessions. 

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