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Millcreek Journal

Utah’s STEM and Charter School Expo lets students showcase science projects

Feb 17, 2020 03:14PM ● By Stephanie DeGraw

Each year, the First Robotics Competition (FRC) has a challenge they need to build a robot to complete a task. The team is demonstrating how the robot can sort objects and put them into containers.  (Photo provided by Beehive Science & Technology Academy)

By Stephanie DeGraw | [email protected]

How student science projects apply to real life will highlight the seventh annual Utah STEM and Charter School Expo on Feb. 29. The event is free and held at the Mountain America Center, formerly known as South Towne Expo. Activities run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Students from Utah middle schools, high schools, and colleges/universities will be participating in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) projects at the event.

“We ask the students how their project can be used in the real world to benefit society,” Kerrie Upenieks, Beehive Science & Technology Academy STEM coordinator/department chair, said. “Besides their project, students need to have a YouTube channel and post it on their website.”

Beehive Science & Technology Academy is a charter school and serves students in grades sixth through 12th. They have expanded in 2020 to include kindergarten through grade five.

Utah students can apply to have an exhibit at the expo by emailing [email protected]. Beehive Principal Hanifi Oguz said last year’s event included displays from approximately 350 students from 20 Utah schools. Oguz estimated 4,500 people attended last year’s expo.

“The expo provides a venue for students from across the state to showcase their STEM projects,” Upenieks said. “It allows companies and institutions with the opportunity to show how STEM is used to improve our communities.” 

Students also learn public speaking skills when they explain the science behind their projects to expo participants. They learn to engage their friends and teach them about science. The goal of the expo is to connect schools to the community, students to professionals, generate interest, and excitement for STEM programs in general, Upenieks said.

During the expo, people can take part in hands-on experiments. There will be LEGO robotics, presentations, science shows, science trivia, and chances to win donated prizes. Demonstrations include a fire tornado demonstration, a robotics competition and a demonstration on static electricity among others.  

More girls have become involved with the STEM program in recent years, according to Upenieks. Some of their seventh-grade girls went to the national Broadcom MASTERS competition, where only the top 30 students in the seventh and eighth grades in America compete. Their school also had 11th-grade girls attend the International Science and Engineering Fair, where ninth to 12th graders from around the world compete.

New this year will be a large, blow-up planetarium where people can go inside to see simulated stars. To learn more, visit www.utahstemexpo.org. 

Sponsors to date are: STEM Utah, Beehive Science & Technology Academy, the Utah Association of Public Charter Schools, Accord Institute for Education Research, Westminster College, Weber State University, University of Utah, University of Utah Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Utah College of Science, University of Utah Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, Utah State University Cooperative Extension, IM Flash Technologies, Sandy City, Utah Chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association, Utah Association of Public Charter Schools, Neumont University, T.D. Williamson, Hill Air Force Base, STEM, U.S. Navy, Utah National Guard, ALS, US Synthetic Engineering, Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce, The Leonardo, Myriad, Merrick Bank, and Orange Peel.