SV Holds Fifth Annual STEM Fair

Jacob Bryant, Staff Writer

On Thursday, February 23, Seneca Valley held its annual STEM Fair in the Senior High School gymnasium.  2017 marks the fifth year of Seneca Valley holding a STEM Fair.  There are students who, as seniors this school year, have now participated in all five SV STEM Fairs.

The STEM Fair is a long-term science project for students at Seneca.  After choosing an original topic, students conduct research, perform any necessary experiments, and collect data.  They display their research in an attractive and informative manner, competing first at Seneca and eventually a multi-school fair.

The projects must fall into one of the four categories indicated in the acronym STEM- science, technology, engineering, and math.  Projects in the field of genetics, environmental sciences, and innovative engineering methods are only a handful out of the hundreds of topics present at the fair.

Patti Griest is a gifted support teacher who also plays a key role in the STEM Fair.  Having overseen all five STEM Fairs at Seneca, many students seek her advice as a sponsor for their projects.

“Something truly admirable is the sheer number of students who participated in the stem fair as an extracurricular activity,” she said.  “A brief glance can show those working on and submitting projects for neither grades nor credits, but taking part in it for the learning experience alone.”

One of the best aspects of the STEM Fair was the large part the community played in it.  Local STEM experts and civilian scientists assisted students in their research, helping many to go the extra mile with their projects.

The fair was held in two parts.  Before the beginning of the school day, participating students assembled their projects in the Senior High School gymnasium.  Throughout the day, classes visited the gymnasium to capture a glimpse of what their peers have been working on for the past several months.

During seventh and eighth period, the STEM students left their classes to stand by their projects, teaching their topics alongside their tri-folds.  Some classes visited the gymnasium during these periods as well, giving Intermediate High students the opportunity to support their classmates.

The main focus of the daytime STEM Fair was to introduce the younger students to the Science Honors Society.  By involving students from an earlier age, the Science Honors Society is able to have the largest impact possible in educating students on STEM topics and career possibilities.

Several hours after school let out, Science Honors Society members returned to present their projects again, this time in a more formal setting.  For two hours in the evening, the students presented their projects once more.  This time, their audience was made up of parents, interested community members, local science experts, and a panel of judges who scored and gave tips on the presentation and information found in the projects.  Students improve their projects based upon the critiques made by the judges, giving them a better chance of success at the regional competition several months in the future.

Seneca Valley’s fifth STEM Fair has managed once more to amaze, a tradition which is sure to continue in future years.