Announcing STEAM Fair 2016: Five Things You Need to Know

STEAM Fair Logo_2015

We are pleased to announce our 5th annual STEAM Fair!

Today’s job market is tough. Applicants significantly outnumber the available jobs. However, companies in the fields of science, technology, and engineering are actually struggling to find skilled workers and are looking abroad to recruit the expertise they need.

It is crucial that students develop the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to pursue whatever career path they desire. The school schedule must reflect the importance of science, engineering, and technology or we will limit ourScreen Shot 2015-11-04 at 11.10.40 AM students’ options for their future. Moreover, we need to do a better job of developing an informed citizenry that can make responsible decisions about the products they purchase, the food they consume, and the politicians for whom they vote. It follows that building our students’ scientific literacy can help to ensure their personal well being, as well as the welfare of their families, communities, and the interconnected world in which we live.

The projects students complete for the STEAM fair should not feel like “an extra thing to do.” The STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art as design, and mathematics) fair is a natural setting to promote learning of important academic content (i.e., CCSS and NGSS) and to support student development of 21st century skills, such as critical thinking a
nd problem solving—skills that are in high demand in today’s workforce!

To assist you with preparing your students for this year’s STEAM fair competition, I present you with…

The 5 Things You Need to Know About STEAM Fair 2016

1. First, you have to know the basics:

  • WHEN: The finals will be held on Thursday, April 28, 2016. Schools fairs will take place anytime on or before April 12, 2016.
  • WHO: 4th-8th graders who place first at their school-level fair will advance to the finals. 9th-12th graders who place first or second at their school-level fair will advance to the finals. K-3 classrooms are also encouraged to carry out investigations. All teachers are asked to send photos of their students’ in action and their work to aberg@auslchicago.org so we can feature them in a slideshow at the finals.
  • WHERE: The finals will take place at Collins Academy High School. Prior to this, each AUSL school will hold their own fair in order to determine winners who will advance to the AUSL finals.

2. There are two types of projects your students may carry out for the STEAM Fair:

  • Science Investigations — Students may conduct traditional experimental design projects (with controlled variables) or they may carry out studies involving systematic observations. Here is a short video outlining the difference between the two.
  • Design Projects — Design projects must identify and provide a solution to a problem. Students may carry out an engineering design project or another form of design (e.g., architecture, app design, computer program, graphic design, etc.)

3. Projects that score well tend to be…

  1. Projects that address real world issues or have real world implications
  2. Projects that are unique (rather than pulled directly from the Science Buddies website)
  3. Projects that identify how the following aspects of NGSS are involved: a) disciplinary core ideas (content), b) practices, and c) crosscutting concepts
  4. Projects that involve iteration:
    • Science projects: Multiple related investigations
    • Design projects: Multiple cycles of testing and redesign
  5. Projects that are well aligned:
    • Science projects: Research question, data collected, and conclusions drawn align
    • Design projects: The design addresses the problem identified and the changes made to the design are based on evidence from testing
  6. Projects that are properly labeled as “science” or “design”
  7. Projects that address each component of the appropriate AUSL rubric (science or design).

4. There are some excellent resources out there to help you assist your students:

Your student could win one of these…

5. The prizes are AWESOME. Winning students from each grade level will receive:

  • 1st place: Chromebook
  • 2nd place: $50 gift card
  • 3rd place: $20 gift card
  • Students placing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd at the AUSL Finals will also receive a medal
  • New this year: Across grades 4-12, one outstanding project in each of the areas of S.T.E.A.M. will also receive a $50 gift card
  • All students who earn a spot in the AUSL Finals will receive a certificate of participation

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Please share your questions, resources, and photos related to STEAM Fair in the comments section below.

Best of luck to each of our schools!

Sincerely,

The STEAM Fair Team of  Rachel Swanson, Rick Jager, and Alissa Berg  

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