Photo by Lorraine Graves
With over 700 elementary pupils participating, Western Canada’s largest non-competitive science fair showcased students’ enthusiasm for STEM: science, technology, engineering and math.
Students who worked in groups on projects, displayed their new-found knowledge at the Richmond School District’s Science Jam at Aberdeen Centre.
As part of the Richmond School District’s annual Education Week activities, Science Jam has grown in size and depth of subjects.
The stand-outs this year came from Maple Lane Elementary where most of their projects, designs and inventions were aids to independent living. They ran the gamut from a way to brush teeth without using hands to different types of cars for people with limited mobility or use of their hands.
Maple Lane’s projects showed the power of a teacher’s leadership and literature to inform and enthuse.
“Our teacher read us a book about someone with cerebral palsy so that gave me and us the idea for our projects,” said one girl.
One Maple Lane group modified a long shoe horn, heating it to put a curve along the middle, cutting a V from one end to hook the laundry and then, after testing, learning they had to smooth the rough-cut edges to keep from snagging threads in the garments. It worked like a charm thanks to their hard work.
“That way, someone who can’t use their hands much, or someone in a wheel chair, can reach in to do their own laundry,” said one of the girls in the group.
Another girl in the group pointed out part of their display: “Here’s a picture of my aunt who also has cerebral palsy. She doesn’t have much use of her hands. She could use this to do her own washing.”
Each in the group had a task such as explaining their design and prototyping process, their safety measures (having an adult handle the boiling water that softened the plastic so it would bend) and then demonstrating the tool in action. They even had model laundry machines. Each step of their design and build process was documented on their display.
In addition to the students’ displays, Science World, the City of Richmond, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site, Hemmera environmental consultants, and Destination Imagination offered participatory displays for the kids and adults where they could try a microscope, and a host of other hands-on exhibits including a Van der Graaf generator that made their hair stand on end.