WENATCHEE — Five-year-old Maverick looked at the collection of mounted insects with curiosity, pointing out wasps to his parents.

The East Wenatchee boy, who describes himself as a "bug hunter," likes all insects and wants to be an entomologist. While out exploring, he and his dad have found large centipedes and slugs.

"I go in my garden," he said. "There's lots and lots of bugs. You know how many roly polies? A hundred sixty."

Maverick and his parents, Casey and Erin Wyatt, attended the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center's Science Fest on Saturday. It featured hands-on activities and demonstrations.

"I definitely want him to be able to look at the world through the lens of science," Casey Wyatt said. "It's a special way of looking at the world. ... Science tends to move us forward really quickly, and I want him to be able to have that in his life."

Erin Wyatt said they also learned that the museum offers science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes for adults.

On Saturday, children and their parents experienced virtual reality, guided a robot through an obstacle course and experimented with light. They made scale models of the solar system, looked at slides on a microscope and checked out different rocks.

Anna Holman, curator of education and programs for the museum, was staffing the insect table when the Wyatt family stopped by.

"It's very important for kids to develop an appreciation of the world around them," she said. "The cool thing about this is it shows kids that all insects are different, but they're not necessarily scary. It's a great way to start that dialogue of the importance of insects in the environment. I don't think some people realize how much we depend on insects for our survival."

Adam Walker, the museum's MakerSpace coordinator, said the National Institute for Science Education provided materials for teaching subjects like the universe and earth science. The museum also brought in other scientists and organizations and incorporated its own exhibits and programs into the event.

Walker said STEM education is critical.

"It's become such a huge part of everyday life," he said. "You've got your phone, you've got your cameras and your news on TV. How you spread information, technology's a huge aspect of that. Introducing that to kids early and continuing that as adults is such an important aspect of what the museum as an educational organization is supposed to do."

This was the museum's first Science Fest, but Walker said he hopes it becomes an annual event.

Kelly Lockman of East Wenatchee said she wanted her 9-year-old daughter, Daelynn, to see that science is a broad field with many branches — and that it's not just for boys.

"I've actually learned more about my daughter," Lockman said. "She's not really into sports, but her mind seems to be a sponge for science."

She said Daelynn will join the museum's robotics program to learn more about science and teamwork.

Daelynn said she wants to be a scientist but isn't sure yet what kind.

"I like learning about the world and trying to find out how long the world has been" in existence, she said.

Bridget Mire: 665-1179

on Twitter @bridget_mire