COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

Hundreds of kids fired off rockets, learned how to be an astronaut, and launched stuffed animals from catapults at Peterson Air Force Base today.

The 21st Space Wing partnered with the National Security Space Institute and the Challenger Learning Center of Colorado to host STEM Rocks.

The event was structured to be a hands-on approach to learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics with several interactive exhibits.

Air Force Col. John Shaw said events like STEM Rocks are going to help the U.S. in the long run.

“They are going to rely so much on the ability to continue to do wonderful technical things in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” he said.

Kids at the event said using the objects at the exhibit help them understand why STEM is important.

“It can give me an idea of structures for something I want to build in the future or figure out different solutions and how to approach a problem,” Andrew Mayo said. He wants to be an inventor.

Taylor Coffey, 14, wants to be in the Air Force. He said teaching young kids how to build paper rockets at the event will help him reach that goal.

“It teaches me how to work with people and teach them how to do stuff,” he said.

25 different agencies were there to teach the kids.