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Annual STEM fair delights students and spectators alike

Hillsborough Elementary School student, Saanvi Trehan, 7, displays her project on Sunscreen at the annual STEM Fair at Hillsborough Elementary School on March 29. Photo by Thomas Wiedmann

Bridging the endless possibilities between fun and science, the Hillsborough Elementary School held its annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Fair on March 29.

With the Hillsborough Elementary School being the largest elementary school in Hillsborough, the STEM fair is no different as more than 100 students came out to event to present their unique projects.

In addition to project demonstrations, there other interactive events such as the bridge challenge, where students designed and built a bridge out of popsicle sticks to see which bridge could support the most weight before collapsing.

New to this year’s event was the Sled Challenge and the Paper Airplane Challenge along with several other hands-on, STEM-themed demonstrations for students and spectators to enjoy.

As the event’s organizer for the past two years, Leigh Strachan has aimed to grow the STEM fair since she became a volunteer with it about six years ago when her son, who is now in sixth grade, first signed up and enjoyed the experience.

“Over time, we have wanted to do more to try and engage the kids to have an interest in science,” Strachan said. “We started with hands-on activities, and the event has progressed in the last two years. We have tried to up it. It’s meant to excite and engage the students about all aspects of STEM.

“This is a really unique event where we go beyond the traditional science fair to create an interactive, entertaining and educational experience to further the kids love and appreciation of all things STEM,” she added.

Over the years, the event has grown beyond student project demonstrations to include entertaining activities for participants and spectators alike such as Lego builds, origami, liquid nitrogen projects and demonstrations from the Hillsborough High School Robotics Team.

For Strachan, the event is not only aimed for fun and entertainment, but to help youths understand the educational aspects of these unique STEM projects as well.

“The event is not just for someone to come in and do a project. It’s meant to encourage the kids who are not doing that and to come in,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for the kids to have something that’s educational and fun, but it’s not just a fun event –  it’s meant to broaden these kids’ horizon.”

Although Strachan admitted that the organization and planning of the big annual event can be a substantial workload, it all pays off in the end when she sees the enjoyment that the fair brings to its attendees.

“I wanted to give to other families what my son got out of it, which was so much excitement, so that’s why I picked up the last year,” she said. “The best part of the event is to see how excited people are at the end and how engaged they are. That’s what makes me happy – to find out that people were engaged and had a good time, and that they can’t wait until next year.”

Not only does Strachan aim for the annual event to attract students to the fun, educational benefits of STEM, but noted that youths who get involved in learning aspects of STEM at an early have the  potential to attain a future career in the field.

“STEM is one of the few areas that there’s still growth in terms of jobs,” she said. “It’s important for kids to become engaged in it early and feel that this is also fun. It has a real educational benefit and for kids who get interested in this – there’s a lot of future for them in STEM.”

Hillsborough Elementary School student, Dominic Lukens, 7, showcases his project on Tornadoes at the annual STEM Fair at Hillsborough Elementary School on March 29. Photo by Thomas Wiedmann
Hillsborough Elementary School student, Reyansh Pattnaik, 6, demonstrates his project on Solar Eclipses at the annual STEM Fair at Hillsborough Elementary School on March 29. Photo by Thomas Wiedmann
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