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Students excel at district STEM Fair

East Layton Elementary sixth-grader Josiah learned how to persevere while building a motorized skateboard for his Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) project, which was recently on display at the Davis School District STEM Fair.

When Josiah built his first prototype, it didn’t match his intended expectations, which meant reworking his plans several times.

“I learned how to not give up when my prototype didn’t work. I just wanted it to work, so I kept going,” said Josiah.

Nearly 500 sixth to 12th-grade students from 47 schools within the district presented their projects at the Davis School District STEM Fair this week. More than 100 industry experts judged the projects and shared their expertise with students.

“This is a really cool project,” Army Recruiter Staff Sgt. Nicholas Paris told Hall after viewing the motorized scooter. “It seems like you’ve learned quite a bit since you didn’t have this knowledge before.”

Paris remembers participating at his school science fair, so he hopes to inspire other young kids now as a judge.

“These fairs really encourage problem solving, not just figuring out complex problems for their project, but solving problems with life that helps them become more well-rounded kids,” said Paris.

As students work through their data and research process, many times their conclusion doesn’t match their hypothesis.

“Science is about critical thinking and problem solving,” said Annette Nielson, Davis School District K-6 science specialist, “which is what’s so wonderful about science because it’s not about having the right answer up front, but working through the process and finding evidence to prove or disprove their claim.”

For instance, with the recent outcry over paper straws, Woods Cross Senior Jaron wanted to know if paper straws really do compost faster than plastic.

“I like to problem solve, so I wanted to know what’s better for the environment,” said Jaron.

Jaron buried several types of straws into a deep dirt hole, checking on their length and mass every two weeks for three months, discovering they really are better for the environment, since the paper straw was the only one that had a significant amount of decomposition.

While many of the students went home with awards, STEM Director Tyson Grover says the district STEM Fair is more than recognition.

“What we’re hoping the students take away from this experience is that this process is ongoing, facilitating wonder and helping students continually make sense of how the world works.”

For a list of senior fair winners click here.

For a list of junior fair winners click here.