Cedarcrest Middle School student Dom Pashok, foreground, and volunteer Tim Erickson demonstrate some creations of the Lego League club at the school’s STEM Fair on May 29.

Cedarcrest Middle School students showed their research and experiments at the school’s annual STEM fair on May 29.

The fair is completely voluntary for students, said Christopher Overland, science teacher at the school.

Students participate in one of three categories for the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fair: engineering design, experimental design and research.

For engineering design “students are trying to use science to solve a problem,” said Overland.

One of the top projects in the category was about restoring a local habitat.

“This student made a very beautiful model about rehabilitating a habitat for the western pond turtle, which is an endangered species in Washington,” said Overland.

In the experimental design category “students are posing a scientific question, doing an experiment and gathering data,” said Overland.

Overland said he wanted students to use the scientific method to approach a question.

“This student was looking at the pH level of different bottled water brands. It’s an interesting topic because there is a wide range of pH levels that they found,” he said.

“They followed the scientific model very well and that’s something that we’re proud of. We really like to look at big picture science and not just memorizing those scientific facts,” he said.

Finally the research category is about learning about and presenting on a topic of the student’s choice.

Overland said that it was good to let student’s investigate what they wanted to.

“I think they like that they get to choose something they’re interested in to go above and beyond with,” he said.

Cedarcrest Middle School student Emily Heck said she liked participating in the fair because of that.

“It’s a really cool fair. Everybody brings their stuff and we get to see them all. It’s really cool that we get to pick our favorites as well,” she said.

Cedarcrest staff and students also presented some of the STEM activities at the school at the fair, such as the 3D printers the school has.

“A lot of teachers utilize the 3D printers in interesting ways to encourage the technology part of STEM,” said Overland.

The school’s Lego League club, which builds robots using Lego supplies and programming, also showed students and parents what they were working on.

“I’m presenting what we’re doing with the Lego League world wide tournament,” said Dom Pashok, Cedarcrest Middle School student and member of the club.

Overland said he enjoys the fair because it helps students attempt something new.

“They have some incentive to try something they wouldn’t try on their own,” he said. “That can really spark the love of learning and that’s something we hop to do as educators all the time,”  he said.

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