STEM Expo features ESD student projects

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From all across the districts, Science, Tech, Engineering and Mathematic (STEM) students  gathered at MTHS on March 31 for a STEM Expo to display their individual projects.

From fifth grade to high school seniors, STEM students were invited to show off an experiment or research project they’ve been working on for the past month or two.

For example, Brier Elementary fifth grader Loreli Rupp made a hydraulics crane which she demonstrated by picking up various objects. Rupp said she had been working on the crane since mid-February and decided to work on it because she found hydraulics very interesting after learning about it in class and wanted to do something related to it herself.

Terrace Heights fifth grader Daniel Khani took a different route, making a pencil box out of pencils. He called it “The Daniel Box” and built the entire thing himself. The Daniel Box contained a small box for various school supplies, a small compartment for personal items and a pencil sharpener attached.

At first, Khani found it hard to think of a project to present, but as his idea began to form, he said he got more and more excited about creating it.

Khani said the most exciting about making The Daniel Box was his mom letting him use a hot glue gun to make the sides stick together. He said it was “much needed,” as they kept breaking apart.

His target was to make a better pencil box and Khani said his goal was fulfilled, but he wished he could have it made slightly larger so pencils could fit better inside.

Brier Terrace Middle School eighth graders Cole Johnston and Aidan Alderson made a “Junior Solar Sprint,” hoping to make a car run faster.

Johnston and Alderson used their vehicle to compete in the Junior Solar Sprint competition at the Washington Technology Student Association (WTSA) state conference over the weekend, securing fifth place. Brier Terrace teams took first through fifth place in the Junior Solar Sprint at the conference.

For their project, Johnston and Alderson cut a wooden car using a laser and attached both a solar panel and batteries to it, making the car zoom around the table.

The original model had only a solar panel, but in the middle of their project, the two substituted solar power for battery packs.

“At first, we had solar power but [Alderson and I] figured since we were in Washington, it’d be better to use batteries,” Johnston said.

According to Alderson, they spent approximately three and a half months on the project, with 56 hours in total.

Both Johnston and Alderson were very proud of their project and explained, in great detail, exactly how it worked to anyone who stopped by.

Several MTHS students featured their projects as well. MTHS sophomore Holden Murray recreated an assignment from the previous year, a plywood chair. Murray modified the design and turned it into a chair for children. He had both his first model and his new prototype on display.

“I say many flaws in last years design and saw what was wrong and wanted to fix it,” Murray said.

With a more research based project, Meadowdale High School senior Jiyoon Bang wrote up a paper on bio-informatics. She said she had been learning about it in her biotech class and thought it was very useful to the real world, as it can predict who has a higher risk of developing cancer.

Bang said scientists use the same information in the database and considered it an important project to learn more about.

Lynwood High School (LHS) junior Karina Yu had a research project on human evolution entitled “Clime and Environmental Changes and Our Species.”

Yu said at the beginning of the year, her teacher assigned a research essay, in which the students picked a subject and wrote on it using polls, data and other forms of research. Then, at the beginning of second semester, LHS STEM students were set to work on the actual projects.

Yu said students had about a month for the visual project before it was due.

STEM-based clubs were represented at the expo as well, including robotics teams, rocketry club and TSA.

The LHS robotics team, the Royal Robotics, was also there to show their First Tech Challenge (FTC) robot. The robot was used in a competition between other robots, the goal being to pick up plastic balls and place them in goals set up.

The MTHS robotics team was also set up with the famous “t-shirt shooter” that appears assemblies. The FTC robot was packed away for safety, so it wasn’t being presented.

College representatives were also set up, inviting prospective college students to learn more about what they can do in the future with their current knowledge.

University of Washington (UW) representative Ana Parada had a booth filled with brochures, pens and cards with UW STEM information.

Parada said the colleges were set up to showcase different programs of STEM and to appeal to the older high school students.

STEM expo presenters included students in the MTHS STEM program as well as those interested in science, math, technology and engineering from schools across the ESD.

MTHS sophomore Alina Poff said she joined STEM in eighth grade because it seemed fascinating to her and the class description looked interesting. She said she’s very glad she joined.

Terrace Height’s Khani liked math and science and wanted to work on his writing skills, giving him a specific reason to join.

“I love [the class], it’s fun and I learn a lot,” Khani said.

Khani said this project was very interesting to him because he can show everyone what he’s learned.

MTHS Robotics team member Nat Sutton and Xander Simkowiak said the STEM Expo was set up help STEM students see their future and non-STEM students see what their future could be.

“It’s kind of a circle,” Simkowiak said. “The middle schools appeal to the elementary schools, the high schools appeal to the middle schools and the colleges appeal to the high schools.”

Sutton said it was to help younger students get interested and aware of STEM and for the older students to “show off” their knowledge.

LHS Royal Robotics coach Dave Phippen said the LHS robotics used the expo as a way of recruiting future members. He said the Royal Robotics go to fairs, parades during the summer and other schools often because they’re “always in need of smart kids.”