FREMONT -- Tejas Venkateswaran and his sixth-grade classmates found a lot to like at Warm Springs Elementary's celebration of scientific invention.
A simulated ride on the Mars Rover vehicle and a mock space capsule traveling at warp speed -- they were only two of the eye-catching science presentations that were available during the school's "Day of Innovation" on Friday, part of the school's annual Science Alliance Week, which continues through Thursday.
But Tejas zeroed in on exactly what interested him.
"I like building things, and I'd really like to build robots," said Tejas, 11.
Those words were music to the ears of Clyde Mann, the event's founder and teacher of third- through sixth-grade science at the Fremont school.
"The kids are hungry for knowledge of hands-on science, and when you learn through applied science, you don't forget it," Mann said. "I have students who are truly gifted and say they want to be scientists. These kids are wired to change the world."
On Friday, Warm Springs Elementary's 930 students could learn scientific concepts from scientists and instructors from Stanford, UC Berkeley and tech and educational companies.
One booth run by Kizoom, an Emeryville educational organization, offered copies of "The Adventures of Ned the Neuron," an interactive book aiming to teach kids about the human brain. Nearby, a Lawrence Hall of Science representative talked about NASA's Kepler telescope, which was launched into space in search of planets outside earth's orbit.
The Day of Innovation kicked off with a morning assembly, featuring speeches from Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison, Congressman Mike Honda and one by Jasmine Tong-Seely, the school's student body president.
"I wish every child in America would have the chance to participate in a science program like the one we have," Tong-Seely, 12, said in her address. "Because then the future of America will be bright and even better than before."
Mann said he wants his students to emulate the work of great inventors, like Henry Ford or Thomas Edison, so that the United States returns to being a nation known for innovation and manufacturing.
As Science Alliance Week continues next week, the school's students will be able to hear and see presentations on physics, astronomy and the history of metals.
"We need to get the best and the brightest to make things again," Mann said. "If we get kids excited about science again, a whole new group of kids will move into applied sciences, engineering and math, and they will change our economy."
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.