CLEMSON — About 220 elementary school students will take a field trip to Clemson University Thursday to learn more about engineering and science as leaders across the nation link the disciplines to economic prosperity.

Students from Clemson and Central elementary schools will gather on the second floor of the Hendrix Student Center to work with Play-Doh, learn about robotics and build bridges out of gummy bears and toothpicks.

“The goal is to get second-graders interested in math and science,” said Sergey Belous, a Clemson University senior who oversees events for the university’s chapter of Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society. “A lot of them don’t realize the excitement and creativity that go into STEM programs.”

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Organizers of the Engineering Expo hope is to spark an interest in students early on and that they will carry the enthusiasm through middle and high school, then to college.

A recent study showed that the majors students choose have a big impact on future salaries. Four of the study’s top 10 highest-earning majors in terms of median salary are offered by Clemson’s College of Engineering and Science. They are mathematics and computer science ($98,000), chemical engineering ($86,000), electrical engineering ($85,000) and mechanical engineering ($80,000).

Tau Beta Pi sponsors the annual Engineering Expo. It is organized by Engineering and Science Week co-chairwomen Jessica Lau and Katie Blair, with Mary Elizabeth Kurz serving as adviser.

The event brings together 13 university organizations, said Belous, who is majoring in computer engineering and serves as Tau Beta Pi chapter president.

It is among several Clemson University programs aimed at showing students in the K-12 system the fun side of engineering and science.

“If you can get that instilled in them at a very early age, you can start watching the kids progress,” said Belous, a 2010 graduate of Chesnee High. “They will strive to be in honors classes, take AP courses.”

The expo is timed to coincide with National Engineers Week, an effort by DiscoverE aimed at bringing engineering to life for kids, educators and parents.

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