Discover, Explore, Create!
Teachers, students and parent volunteers have begun the challenging, yet rewarding journey of preparing for the upcoming STEM Expo on April 13th. Last year’s inaugural expo proved to be a great success with 81 submitted projects.
“I was shocked and excited with all the projects that were submitted last year – they were so unique and creative,” expressed Lynn Kistler, Director of Academics. “I love seeing the students’ ideas and thought processes. They always amaze me with their creativity and hard work. We hope this STEM project sparks their imaginations and gets them excited to pursue further inquiry and experimentation.”
This project-based, hands-on experience encourages SCCS learners to explore an unknown topic or create something new. Students will submit projects within the following categories: Inventions, Reverse Engineering, Robotics/Computer Science, Rube Goldberg, Scientific Inquiry with a new sixth category of Engineering Development resulting from student interest to build roller coasters. Also new this year, students may work in groups of two.
“We were trying to cover every aspect of STEM (science, tech, engineering and math) when we created the categories,” continued Kistler. “Our NASA/JPL rocket scientist mom, Jen Trosper, who helped chair the event last year, came up with the categories hoping it would provide enough variety for students to find a project that would interest them.”
As students prepare their projects, they will complete multiple milestone check-ins with a “STEM Expert Parent” where the expert asks guiding questions, engages in dialogue about the chosen project and helps the student think through aspects of the design.
“Our STEM Expert Parents have been so helpful in gently guiding and counseling the students, while still allowing them to drive the project. They communicate and display first-hand experience in their fields and use that knowledge to help our students,” continued Kistler. “The milestone check-ins are necessary as they help students space out the work and they provide benchmarks so the students (and parents!) are not doing the project the night before!”
Each project will be judged on category specific requirements. These judging rubrics are a guide for what students will learn from the scientific processes all the way to the public speaking presentation of their projects. SCCS parent volunteers, all with some type of STEM-related knowledge, interest or career, partner with students throughout the project.
“The STEM Expo has provided an opportunity for parents and students to get involved in a unique way. We bring in real-life examples of people working in STEM fields and this has helped students get excited about these different career paths,” explained Kistler. “Even students who aren’t necessarily drawn to science have gotten involved and excited about submitting a project. The STEM Expo provides an opportunity to highlight development, creativity and exploration within the STEM areas of education.”
This special learning experience draws the SCCS community in partnership to discover, explore and create together. Be sure to cheer on our SCCS learners at the April STEM Expo – you won’t want to miss it!