The Martha Jones School recently held a STEAM Fair to showcase the wide variety of talents of its student body. The fair lets students present projects they create in the areas of science, technology, engineering, art or math. Fair visitors viewed demonstrations and art displays from 100 students, and were treated to a concert by the fifth-grade jazz band. The annual event is organized by school administrators and the PTO.“It’s been ongoing for longer than the six years we’ve been part of the school,” said Rebecca Lowney, a member of the PTO’s planning committee. “It is both an art fair and a science fair and a way for students to show a wide variety of skills.”
Students are solely responsible for coming up with ideas for their projects, conducting the research and creating their displays; most of the work is done outside of school. No students are ever assigned a project and no students are required to submit anything.“The students can work independently or collaboratively on these science or math projects, and then it is on them to present it to the school,” said Lowney. “The younger students really take ownership and pride in presenting these projects, and students at every grade level were represented.”
Among the projects on display were a how-to for making rock candy from scratch, attempts at designing self-propelled cars, and a closer look at how volcanos work. Some math and science students presented research projects they conducted.Lowney emphasized the evening was not a competition, but a showcase. Parents volunteered to don lab coats and play the role of expert scientists. They went from table to table, asking students questions about their displays. Each participating student received a certificate of achievement acknowledging their hard work.
Laura Hall served on the STEAM planning committee and was on hand to view the work of her two students, one of whom has been participating in the fair since the first grade.“I think it’s a wonderful learning opportunity for the kids, because it’s open-ended and self-directed,” she said. “They come up with their own questions and topics and then they get to decide how they want to research it and test it. When they get to share that with a greater audience, it’s exciting for them.”
Parents also enjoy the chance to see artistic creations students have worked on throughout the year and are staged by their art teacher.“The kids put a lot of work into it, and they are so enthusiastic and excited to get to be in the spotlight,” Hall said. “For those who are walking around, it’s a neat opportunity to see a wide variety of really creative and diverse topics that these kids have come up with on their own.”
“It was truly a fantastic night celebrating both the arts and the sciences,” said Lowney.