Young scientists show off talents at STEAM Expo

Leona Cox Elementary School students and their parents play math-related games on laptops and tablets during the school's Family Math Night on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017. Katharine Lotze/Signal

Some of the valley’s youngest engineers, scientists and inventors demonstrated their skills and shared their talents at the Sulphur Springs Union School District’s (SSUSD) third annual STEAM Expo Tuesday.

“The students were so excited that we had some lining up at 5 o’clock to be ready for it,” SSUSD Board of Trustees Clerk Ken Chase said.  “Everybody was excited for what they were engaged in.”

The STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) Expo at Mitchell Community School included students in kindergarten to sixth grade from all nine of the district schools.

Students shared their projects with parents, teachers and administrators and demonstrated their skills in coding and robotics using Bee-Bots, Dot & Dash, Ozobots, Cubelets, Lego Robotics EV3, Chromebooks, iPads and computers.

“Starting in kindergarten they do Bee-Bots where they program a device that can travel and be pre-programmed,” Chase said.  “It teaches students at a young age even the simplest forms of coding and plants the seed as they progress through the grades.”

Students also shared their work with the district’s new Lego Mindstorms robots that were individually built and configured to complete different tasks.

Another group of students designed a catapult and used different trial methods with a plastic spoon and a tongue depressor to see which method worked best.

“They were catapulting a penny and had a water bottle to hold it,” Chase said.  “You have a lot of different energies working and they had to create different designs to make it work.”

Since its founding three years ago, the STEAM Expo has grown both in student participation and available programs.

The Project- Based Learning format with the elements of the STEAM Expo also incorporated requirements set by the Next Generation Science Standards.

Chase noted that the art aspect of the STEAM Expo added an education element to the event that might not be observed at a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Expo.

“The difference between STEAM and STEM is the art,” he said.  “The art adds another element that stimulates new parts of the brain and brings it all together.”

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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