Our annual STEM Fair on May 15 was a night full of fun and learning! With over 35 exhibitors, there were numerous activities and demonstrations to showcase STEM in the Delran community.
At check-in, next to the FabLab doors, GreenDrop was available to encourage the 3Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Attendees could donate their gently used clothing or other household items to the charity for recycling. STEM team members Mr. Maraldo, Mrs. DeMichele, and Mrs. Hutchinson, as well as STEMbassador Aaliyah Hicks, were some of the greeters that evening to help attendees navigate different exhibits based on interests, as well as provide the evening’s Program of Events and Event Map. Upon entering the FabLab, Mr. DeLoche was helping attendees make t-shirts with vinyl-pressed designs while Mrs. Radwell was demonstrating many projects from DMS’ Industrial Arts program. In the lab, participants were creating dice, but also could also view the CAM toys and die-cut projects created by our middle schoolers.
Across the hallway in the gymnasium, tables of demonstrations and experiments lined the perimeter and center of the room. Many STEM school clubs showcased their work, and Lockheed Martin had several tables of experiments, such as hoop gliders, creating your own lip balm, and gum drop engineering. At one of the tables, Millbridge’s afterschool robotics program, the Millbridge RoboCubs, showcased coding with Lego WeDo 2.0, making their robotic frog hop across the gym floor. One of their goals is to harvest problem-solving and critical thinking skills; in this case, programming the frog to pull an item from one location to another by coding the movements as well as following page-by-page schematics to build the robot itself.
When passing through the gym hallway, STEMbassadors were on hand to help guide guests. Volunteer translators were available for our multilingual families to fully experience the fair. Solar Landscape provided demonstrations to showcase how real-world applications of science and engineering provide solar power on commercial and residential properties. Participants also could register for our annual STEAM Camp in this area (more information available here).
In the Library Media Center, Lockheed Martin was demonstrating a Tesla Coil. They explained how the heated air vibrates the molecules to form the notes we heard in familiar songs in what looked like bolts of lightning coming from the apparatus. Some of the songs you may have heard, whether in the presentation or just walking by, included The Imperial March and the Ghostbusters theme song.
Upstairs, in the greenhouse, Mr. Fiordimondo and BioTech students showcased their horticultural experiments and plans for their Eden Garden. One of the demonstrations was about aphids, a pest that sucks the juices from plant stems, causing stunted growth, discoloration, and other problems. However, the horticulture students perform problem-based research projects and bring their ideas into action in the greenhouse.
“These are aphids that have been parasitized and turned into wasps,” Mr. Fiordimondo explained, gesturing to a specific site on basil plants. “This teeny wasp is looking for any aphids. We had an aphid explosion, and I bought the analog in nature [Aphidius Colemani] that would hunt for them.” As a result of their project, the aphid population decreased. The plants in the greenhouse were vibrant, healthy, and in various stages of growth. He also provided tours of their rooftop gardens overlooking the Eden Garden, as well as reviewed the blueprints and plans for the space in detail on the lightbox.
STEMbassadors were in several classrooms providing activities, such as LEGO design challenges, Ozobots, bubble creation, and fairytale STEM. In the Lego Design room, students were tasked to build their own amusement park ride. From tilt-a-whirls to thrill coasters to family-friendly coasters, participants were eager to showcase their designs and explain their rides. In Bubble Magic, we made bubble mixtures using household materials and then made large bubbles without popping. Take-home kits were provided to attendees as well.
In Ozobots: Mission to Mars, attendees used special markers to code paths for their robots. “They respond to the different color prompts; when they recognize the code, you see them respond and change [to the] different colors,” STEMbassador Josh Hoffman explained. “They can speed up, change directions, switch lanes, turn around, perform different movement patterns… they can spin around a few times in a pattern called a Tornado. They have a lot of cool options.” Each participant’s workspace had special pens to design and code their own patterns for Ozobots to follow.
In the Cafeteria, attendees experienced the Star Lab, which is a mobile planetarium. The presenter read stories about our solar system and the universe. “So the story goes, that in Greek mythology, Zeus was king of the ancient Greek gods. He loved a beautiful woman named Calysto [...] when he saved Calysto, he placed [both Calysto and her son] in the sky as constellations,” he read. As the story progressed, he showed how to identify constellations like Ursa Major (The Big Dipper) and Ursa Minor (The Little Dipper) and Orion’s Belt. To learn more about the night sky, our school libraries have many titles to explore, including interactive books through our BookFlix subscriptions.
Outside the school, in the rear solar parking lot, attendees could satisfy both their appetites for food and for knowledge. The Delran Fire and Police Departments offered presentations throughout the evening to showcase STEM in action, whether it be on their vehicles or equipment. For example, we saw many instances of how technology helps keep us safe, such as thermal imaging cameras to help firefighters navigate smoke-filled environments. For those interested in automotives, both an electric vehicle showcase (from The Delaware Valley Tesla Owners Club) and the Universal Technical Institute were on-hand to present and answer questions. Universal Technical Institute’s programs include robotics, welding, wind power, diesel, and auto mechanics. The Delaware Valley Tesla Owners Club showcased how electric cars run; the vehicles were open for attendees to explore and ask questions while our demonstrators explained wattage calculation and the process of how electricity is converted into mechanical energy. If you worked up an appetite, Capixabas Pizza and Kona Ice Peak were both on hand to satisfy your cravings.
Over 700 attendees were anticipated to participate in the hands-on STEM activities and see many real-world applications of STEM in our community. In addition, over 50 shirts were created and distributed, as well as prize raffles. To see more event coverage, visit our DelranSTEM Instagram page.
Thank you to our partners and volunteers for providing such an enriching educational experience for our community, and thank you to all of our participants for your ongoing support of our Delran STEM programs!
Sustainable New Jersey
Delran Police Department
Delran Fire Department
Universal Technical Institute
New Jersey STEM Pathways
Delran Green Team
Delran Cubs STEAM UP Summer Camp