HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — It’s all about STEM!

It’s the 3rd Annual STEM Exploration Community Event on Oct. 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Brooks Crossing Innovation & Opportunity Center, 550 30th Street. It is a free event that is open to the public.

Since its first year, it’s been a success, and something people look forward to year after year. As of Thursday evening, 850 people have already signed up to attend this weekend.

It’s about opening up the STEM world to people in Hampton Roads. It’s a large joint effort. There is participation from over 17 schools regionally as well as organizations from all over the state and out-of-state.

“It is a regional effort to really try to get our kids engaged in hands-on STEM and understand that there are so many opportunities in STEM that people just aren’t even aware of as far as career choices,” said Betsy McAllister, Hampton City School STEM teacher specialist.

McAllister is on the planning committee for the event. She represents event sponsors Hampton City School and the National Institute of Aerospace.

The event wants to excite kids about STEM and the opportunities it brings to their lives. Through the field, youth can work toward training for future high paying and in-demand careers.

More than 45 exhibitors will be on site with a variety of interactive activities, hands-on exhibits and lessons. All about de-stigmatizing STEM and making it fun. Click here to view the full list of exhibitors and vendors.

Lisa Wornom-Zahralddin is also on the planning committee. She represents two sponsors for the event, Coastal Virginia (COVA) STEM Hub and the city of Newport News. She is currently Leader-on-loan for the COVA STEM Hub.

“We are really focusing on serving the underserved populations,” said Wornom-Zahralddin. “We really want to get into the communities and have the schools come and the non-profits that are serving the underserved kids. I think once their minds are open to the fun, and the de-stigmatized branding of STEM, it leads them into interests to stay in school — to graduate.”

It’s about offering the STEM knowledge and field to everyone in the community, especially those that might not have as much access.

The day is family-friendly, and meant for all ages to enjoy.

“STEM is not just something that happens in school,” McAllister said.

They want to encourage both formal opportunities in education, but also non-formal activities like what is offered this weekend.

“We felt it was really important to include the whole family in this because we want the entire family to understand the significance of this and be supportive to their kids as they pursue opportunities and roles in STEM,” McAllister said.

It also serves as an opportunity for both adults and students to make connections in the world of STEM and grow their network.

Originally, the event was targeted for middle schoolers to get involved in STEM, but they’ve seen all ages engaged and entertained at previous events. Wornom-Zahralddin said it’s one huge party around STEM.

Participants will also have an opportunity to listen to talks from people in the field. Click here to view the full list of speakers.

Three people from NASA will speak at the event. McAllister said they have had a great partnership over the last three years, and have played a huge role.

“These are folks that are so committed to mentoring and engaging youth in STEM opportunities,” McAllister said.

The event is free and open to the public. At the event, stay all day and enjoy activities, food trucks, activities and more. It’s a positive community day.

“We want everyone to come out and enjoy and meet the exhibitors,” Wornom-Zahralddin said.

It will go on rain or shine. There will be tents outside and some indoor activities. Register for the event at the link here.