ORLAND – The Glenn County STEM Expo continues its more than 40-year history this year with innovative projects by kindergarten through 12th grade students from the county’s eight districts and two charters March 10-12.
The event, being held at the Flaherty Hall at the Glenn County Fairgrounds in Orland, will be open to the public on Wednesday, March 11 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. All student projects as well hands on exhibitions from local organizations will be featured. Raffle prizes will also be awarded throughout the event. Admission and parking are free.
Changes to the Expo format in 2019 including extending eligible grades from kindergarten through eighth grade to kindergarten through 12th grade and expanding the project categories to include Science Fiction Writing and Things resulted in the largest participation in the Expo’s history.
The Things category was for students who wanted to build “things that didn’t fit” into other categories like projects that included wood working, welding or 3D printing, something they “designed and made from scratch,” said Darren Massa, Glenn County Office of Education STEM coordinator.
“The Expo is really about getting kids excited about science, fostering and building on their natural curiosity about the world around them. That’s why we included so many new and different categories and extended the grade levels last year. It opened up participation to students who might not otherwise consider participating. We want to remove all barriers from participation so the Expo is accessible to every student.,” said Massa.
In 2019, nearly 450 students entered 219 individual and group projects nearly double 2018’s participation in the Expo.
In addition to the new competition categories, the students present projects in six traditional science fair categories including: Intelligence and Behavior, The Living World, The Physical Universe, Infernal Contraptions, Reverse Engineering and Invention, and Robotics and Computer Science.
Students will be competing for first, second, third, and participation ribbons, as well as awards provided by donors, which include local museums such as the Gateway Science Museum in Chico and Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding. Additional donors include other Northern California museums such as The Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, Exploratorium in San Francisco, and the Aerospace Museum of California in McClellan. Project judging by county and regional experts in STEM fields takes place the morning of March 11.
Mesa said the Expo also includes some new judged categories including Most Innovative and Creative Use of Materials, People’s Choice Award and Most Effort Award. Members of the public who attend the event will do the judging for these awards.
Local organizations including the Glenn County Farm Bureau, Glenn County Resource Conservation District and the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge among others are also sponsoring special awards.
“Sometimes there’s some amazing projects that don’t score well on the traditional judging rubric, but the audience recognizes the awesome work that went into them. We wanted to honor those projects, those students so we created these special awards. We just want the kids to engage, have fun and be encouraged and we want to get more people celebrating and honoring their work,” said Massa.
Students in certain categories will also be competing for six slots at the California Science and Engineering Fair held at the California Science Center in Los Angeles in April.
“It’s really exciting for these kids to go to the California Science Center, to go to LA and show off their projects,” said Massa.
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