Evolving from a pilot program in 2014, the Los Altos School District’s upcoming STEM Expo is now a series of districtwide activities that encourages K-6 students to design hands-on projects and showcase their accomplishments.
Karen Wilson, the district’s STEM coordinator, called the program “STEM Plus,” a nod to the trend of adding an “A” for “arts” to science, technology, engineering and math to turn the STEM acronym into STEAM, and even inserting an “R” for “reading” to make it STREAM. Wilson explained that an “H” for “humanities” could also be added, and the list could go on, so she would rather use “STEM Plus.”
This year’s STEM Expo will feature:
• Computer science programming
• Environmental innovation
• Invention with prototype construction
• Reverse engineering (taking something apart and learning how it works)
• Rube Goldberg project (creating devices inspired by the cartoonist’s work)
• Scientific inquiry (basic experimentation)
• Wearable design
Students may work alone, with a peer or in a small group of three on a project. Parents are allowed to help out but can only act as a lab assistant, consultant or financial decision maker, which means parents may reject a highly costly project.
The project will be due on the day of the Expo at the participants’ school site. It is not a competitive science fair – each participant with a completed project will be recognized.
STEM Expos are slated March 7 at Oak Avenue School, March 13-14 at Santa Rita, March 20 at Gardner Bullis, March 22 at Springer, March 27-29 at Covington, April 3 at Almond and April 5 at Loyola. In addition to the K-6 Expos, the district has scheduled STEM Career Days March 19 at Egan Junior High School and March 20 at Blach Intermediate School.
A STEM Career Night for seventh- and eighth-graders at both schools is set for 7 p.m. March 21 in the Blach Multipurpose Room, 1120 Covington Road, Los Altos.
The event will feature speakers Gokul Krishnan, Emmy Award-nominated filmmaker and Webby Awards founder; Paul Perry, mechanical engineer at Zipline International Inc.; and Suzan Briganti, owner of the startup Swarm Vision, which helps Fortune 1000 companies identify and leverage innovation talent.