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CCPS STEAM Fair at the Science Museum

 

On April 19, Chris Workman, PE, Director of Environmental Services, participated in the Second Annual Chesterfield County Public Schools STEAM (Scientific, Technological, Engineering, Artistic, and Mathematical) Fair at the Science Museum of Virginia. STEAM encourages students to demonstrate their critical and creative thinking skills, share their projects, and consult with STEAM professionals. There are events for elementary, middle, and high school students.

The students, considered to be young scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians, selected projects from a list of options addressing real world challenges. The projects had resource limits that included a monetary budget, a project completion schedule, and a weight limit. Many of the projects had to be constructed from a collection of common items, pushing the students to be resourceful and creative.

Once a project was selected, either by an individual or a group of students, the students formulated a scientific hypothesis, a method to test the hypothesis, and a plan to visually present their results.

As a “review professional,” Chris discussed the projects with the design teams. Chris was surprised by how young the students were. The students explained their projects, including their hypotheses and how they planned to test their hypotheses. Chris reviewed their project presentations, particularly the results. One item discussed with the students was how their projects had any “real world” applications.

The projects reflected a great deal of variety and expertise. They included an analysis of propeller pitch and length on the efficiency of wind-driven electrical generators; the degree that sunlight affects different colored fabrics; how the changing physical orientation of a seed affects its growth; and the effect of salt water on the corrosion of buried metal objects. Noting the corrosion project’s relevance, Chris told the student that earlier in his career, "I spent nearly an entire year studying the effects of corrosion on buried utility pipe for the City of Richmond."

Chris was very pleased with the responses from the students. He said "I tried to make them feel comfortable, but at the same time, make them feel accountable for the investment of time and effort they and their teachers had put into the project. I saw tremendous potential in many of the students, in their expertise, but also in their creativity and ability to work with other team members."