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Jordan District STEM night provides interactive activities for students

May 30, 2018 11:47AM ● Published by Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | julie@mycityjournals.com

Eastlake sixth-graders Ike Palmer and Jackson Webster wanted to know if there was a way to charge one cell phone with another cell phone.

So, the pair went about designing a way to use two 9-inch charges with liquid electrical tape to create a duo charger prototype for their school’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fair.

Eastlake teacher Christina Madsen said the purpose of the fair was to take an everyday problem and try to come up with a solution. 

“Many of our students were able to create working prototypes and use their entrepreneurial skills to solve problems they defined,” she said. “Some students took it so seriously they looked at real issues and plan to apply for patents on their projects.”

While students across the area completed projects for their school STEM fair earlier this year, in hopes of then advancing to the regional science fair and beyond, Jordan School District holds its own STEM community night with activities and challenges designed to engage students of all ages without a competition.

“There is a lot of interactive activities that we hope sparks students’ interest in STEM,” District STEM Curriculum Consultant Jane Harwood said about the District’s third annual event held in late April in Elk Ridge Middle School’s gymnasium. “There are drones, a hovercraft, a catapult contest and other experiments students can try out.”

Fifth-grader Jaycee Best, who was with his fourth-grade brother, Kyle, had just flown the drones.

“I want to be a pilot, so I wanted to try flying a drone,” Jaycee said. “We just checked out the dry ice that bubbles in our hands.”

His mom, Lauren, said both her boys are fascinated with science.

“This is a really amazing event,” she said. “They want to do everything. It will give them ideas for their future careers.”

Sixth-grader Kaitlin Swank said she came to represent her school in the district catapult contest.

“We had our own school catapult contest, and my partner and I were one of the winners who could compete here, only she couldn’t come,” Kaitlin said. “I’m wanting to become a mechanical engineer, so this STEM fair is really neat.”

Jordan District’s middle and high school MESA (mathematics, engineering, science achievement) and STEM clubs sponsored booths as well as other local businesses, including IM Flash, Boeing, WSP USA Engineering, HawkWatch International, Ivanti and others.

At Bingham High’s MESA booth, across from the hovercraft booth, senior Parker Price was conducting a reaction test with students.

“I joined MESA my junior year, and one or twice each month, we’ve been doing activities that we typically wouldn’t do in class,” he said. “We’ve dissected a cow’s heart, made elephant toothpaste and even had a paper airplane contest. It’s been a lot of fun.” 

Price said that it’s a great way to get more involved in science, math and engineering outside of his classes, all which he sees will help him before he heads to Utah State to study engineering in the fall. 

Seventh-grader Melissa Oman, who had checked out the Shrinky Dinks, explained how they work.

“Shrinky Dinks are plastic polymers that are made of long chains of repeating molecules,” Oman said. “The polymer used for Shrinky Dinks is stretched out when it cools. So, when it heats up in the oven, the molecules are actually being released and returned to their original size, so it appears that they are shrinking. Science has always interested me; it’s cool.”

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