River City Science Academy students showcased innovative projects such as a using golf balls and string to illustrate a complex physics concepts Saturday during the Jacksonville school‘s eighth annual Florida STEM & Health Expo.
Ebrar Yuksel and Katherine Froozan smiled as they watched their creation — a row of golf balls dangling from different lengths of red and gold string attached to a wooden A-frame stand — slowly start swinging Saturday.
At first, synchronized in a straight line. Then as they gained momentum, the golf balls transformed into a serpentine pace running the entire length of the wooden frame.
Harmony vs. Chaos — a pendulum wave was created.
The two 11th grade classmates at River City Science Academy demonstrated the physics concept as their STEM project.
“We decided to do the wave pendulum because we‘re taking physics right now,” Yuksel said.
The serpentine motion, she said, is the result of the varied lengths of string.
“All of them are different lengths, so due to this they all move at a different period. So that‘s why it’s a snake-like movement,” she said of the concept that relies on a specific equation.
Yuksel and Froozan‘s project was among the most popular student exhibits Saturday at the eighth annual Florida STEM & Health Expo held by River City Science Academy at its main campus in Jacksonville.
Both are considering careers involving STEM. For Froozan, that includes psychiatry, which involves harmony and chaos in the human mind.
The academy is a tuition-free, public charter school established in 2007. Serving kindergarten through 12th grade at four campuses, the school emphasizes STEM education, which focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
Saturday‘s free event allowed academy students an opportunity to showcase their STEM work in a fun and unique way. It also provided hands-on learning opportunities designed for the whole family, school officials said.
“We were packed! We’re estimating that there were between 5,500 and 6,000 people that visited throughout the day,” said Alex Dreyer, outreach assistant at the academy.
The expo serves as an alternative to the typical county fair. It allows the students to showcase their STEM work in a fun and unique way with learning opportunities for the entire family, school officials said.
The expo‘s goal “is to expose Florida’s citizens to the exciting and engaging world of STEM and health to ignite their interests and motivation for these disciplines,” they said.
The free, one-day event also featured science shows, STEM educators, informational booths from local health providers, nonprofit organization and colleges and universities, the Jacksonville Sheriff‘s Office and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.
In addition, there were family-oriented games and food trucks.
Marquis Whilhelm brought his 5-year-old son, Markus, and 7-year-old daughter, Ermania, to the expo. Both youngsters are interested in science, said Whilhelm, adding he‘d like to see them develop that interest into engineering or another technology career.
“Ermania likes it a lot, especially robots and space exploration and Markus, he kind of follows her lead,” the Jacksonville father said of his children‘s interest in STEM fields.
“I just think it‘s interesting. It’ss fun to do, to figure things out,” Ermania said as she led the family to the robotics demonstrations. “It’s kind of a big puzzle, and I like figuring out puzzles and how things work.“
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Asked what he liked the most, Markus grinned and pointed to the mechanical arm project. Whilhelm said his son has a lot of Legos at home and likes building things with them.
Whilhelm said the expo was a chance for a fun field trip for the kids, who are home-schooled.
A successful STEM education provides students with science, math, and engineering/technology in sequences that build upon each other and can be used with real-world applications, according to the expo website.
Teresa Stepzinski: (904) 359-4075
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