Some local schools are taking a different twist on the traditional science fair this year.
As a pilot program, Loyola, Gardner Bullis and Santa Rita schools are scheduled to host STEM Expos that offer students opportunities to work on projects in several science, technology, engineering and mathematics categories.
Loyola held its STEM Expo Thursday, packing the multipurpose room with presentations from students in all grades.
“The main difference between this and a normal science fair is that students can do their projects in the different categories, which reflect the curriculum they have been learning all year,” said Karen Wilson, Los Altos School District STEM coach.
The categories include:
• Rube Goldberg: Designed to encourage discovery in physics and engineering concepts and methods. Covers the device construction, use of simple machines and written sequence requirements.
• Invention: Intended to provide a general area of an innovative solution to a problem or a new single item invention. Covers the illustrative design detail, the understanding of the invention’s use and benefits and design prototype construction.
• Environmental Innovation: Designed to provide a means of sharing environmentally innovative ideas. The ideas may be new products, procedures, inventions or promotional projects.
• Reverse Engineering: Intended to provide a means of discovering engineering concepts and methods. The participant must take something apart, learn how it works and explain it.
• Robotics: Participants must design a device that accomplishes a specific purpose repeatedly, either autonomously or via remote control.
• Science Inquiry: The basic experimentation category covers scientific methodology, research, hypothesis, experiment design, data collection and analysis.
Participation in the STEM Expo was mandatory for sixth-graders at Loyola School and voluntary for lower grades.
Wilson noted that students are familiar with the topics, as STEM classes are included in the curriculum.
“I love that there are so many different topics that students can explore,” she said.
The students were available during the Expo to explain their projects and demonstrate their findings. Because the STEM Expo is a pilot program, there was no official competition or judging.
A STEM Expo is scheduled April 16 at Gardner Bullis School and April 17 at Santa Rita.
For more information, visit tinyurl.com/LASDstemexpo.
LASD STEM Expo at Loyola School - Photos by Ellie Van H outte/Town Crier