Cooking with STEAM: 11 Project Tips to Impress the Judges in April

The 7th annual AUSL STEAM Fair is coming up in April!

Here are the basics you need to know:

  • What: STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art (as design), and Mathematics
  • When: April 20, 2018 (9:30am-1:30pm)
  • Where: Collins Academy High School
  • Who: Each school will send their 4th-12th grade winners from their respective fairs to the finals. Elementary schools send one winning project per grade. High Schools send two winning projects per grade. Students may work individually or in pairs.
  • Why: 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 and problem solving—skills that are in high demand in today’s workforce!
  • How: Check out our STEAM Fair resources here (including example timelines, graphic organizers, and project ideas): 

The awards presentation at last year's STEAM Fair. What can you do to make sure your students are up here this year? Read on to find out!

The awards presentation at last year’s STEAM Fair. What can you do to make sure your students are up here this year? Read on to find out!

Based on the last six years and hundreds of projects that students presented at the network STEAM Fairs, seven distinct trends emerge with those projects that impress judges the most.  Guide your students to create…

  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:
    • disciplinary core ideas (content)
    • practices, and
    • 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).

What can you do to help your students “reach the stage” at the STEAM Fair in April?

Here are four ways to help them take their projects to the next level!

  1. Provide students a little inspiration:
  2. Ramp up students’ focus on the “T” in STEAM by have students create an app-based solution to a real world problem:
  3. Engage students in the “ideation” process: Check out the slides from the “ideation” workshop presented at this year’s STEAM Fair PD by Kevin Gates of Microsoft. Consider implementing a similar workshop in your classroom with your students to help them come up with meaningful STEAM Fair project ideas:
  4. Check out this list of NGSS-aligned engineering project ideas for 4th-8th grade

Let’s hear from our teachers who have guided students to place at past AUSL STEAM Fairs: what tips would you offer to improve students’ projects? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Good luck, teachers!

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