Last week, schools from around the district pooled their collective knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and math for the district-wide STEM Fair. Though there were many great projects, experiments, and hands-on experiences connectED stopped out to discuss in detail a few of the standouts at the fair.
Nathaniel Johnson, 5th grade at Jefferson Elementary, presented a project on the effects of small amounts of radiation on a popcorn kernel. He hypothesized that by placing a kernel near a banana (which gives off said “small amount of radiation”) for several weeks he could essentially “cook” the kernel. Placed front and center on his project board was the kernel he used during his experiment; it appeared burnt. We asked him how he came up with the idea for the experiment and he said that while at home he noticed that some of the popcorn the family had made was burned to a crisp which got him wondering.
Jasmin Newkirk, 5th grade at Sietz Elementary, created a model volcano which erupted using a chemical reaction between vinegar and baking soda. She told connectED that making the project was a lot of fun and she really enjoyed using technology to research how volcanos work as well as learning about the different layers of the earth’s crust. Her project board was done by hand and really showed her knowledge of the topic coupled with creativity.
Wyatt Heck, 3rd grade at Jefferson Elementary, took a few moments to talk with connectED and explained hydraulics and how they could be used to power a robotic arm. Using wood, cardboard, wire, syringe pumps, and tubing he was able to clamp a homemade robotic arm onto a drink bottle and lift it off the table. He showed his knowledge of the topic by explaining what happens with there is too little or too much pressure in the tubing.
Solange Marks, 4th grade at Jefferson Elementary, met guests of the STEM Fair outside where she helped operate a miniature model of a countryside filled with livestock, houses, a hotel, and a church. The miniature illustrated the effects of erosion by pumping two streams of water through the model which had a foundation of light-weight sand-like material. The streams formed their own way through the model and showed how water can affect the look and shape of the land around it.
The STEM Fair was held over two days (Friday and Saturday) and really showcased the variety of interests within the student population. Visitors could see topics from robotics to how plants absorb water through roots. Some of these projects are photographed above.
STEM teachers within the district hope to continue this event in the future as it allows students the ability to learn and teach through creativity while bolstering their science, technology, engineering, and math education.