More than 230 high school students flocked to the Kroc Center in Augusta on Thursday to test robotic inventions and enter the world of virtual reality.

The annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, Connections Day brought students from both sides of the river where local companies helped students learn more about job opportunities in the four related fields of study.

Activities were broken into various rooms including the auditorium where students could hear first-hand accounts of how STEM jobs have impacted the lives of successful career men and women.

Other rooms featured Science Jeopardy and other games, including a virtual reality station hosted by Aiken’s Newport News Shipbuilding office. Employee Stefanie Warner said the program immerses users into an environment.

On a broader scale, it can be used in a number of professions, Warner said.

“It helps reduce risk and can be used for military training, for surgery before you operate on someone and other areas,” she said.

Student Michael Mann said the program showed him the benefits of how testing relates to real-life scenarios.

“It’s really amazing,” Mann said. “By looking around and taking it all in today, it really gives you a sense of the opportunities that are available.”

Classmates Ben Wright and Michal Pacholczyk visited the various booths at STEM Connections including the MOX booth where a glovebox display taught them how to conduct work while working with radioactive material.

“It was pretty hard at first, but we found a way to figure it out,” Wright said. “It’s really just problem-solving.”

The annual event is hosted by the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization, or SRSCRO. Group member Mindy Mets said the goal is to help students see the lucrative, needed jobs in the area in various fields including engineering, technician work, computer analysis and welding.

“Our hope is that participants walk away with a better understanding of how to best prepare for the may types of STEM careers in our region,” Mets said.

STEM Career Connections Day falls each year on National Nuclear Science Week, a national and international, broadly observed weeklong celebration to focus local, regional, national and international interest on all aspects of nuclear science.

Click here to see the STEM Connections in Augusta Photo Gallery.