The students of the Merced City School District never cease to amaze me with their intelligence, creativity, and compassion. All of those attributes were on display during our district-wide science fair last week, which was held at our new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) Center.
The competition featured a total of 65 projects from our elementary and middle schools, and many of them aimed to improve the lives of others. One group of seventh graders from Rivera Middle School created a vibrating steering wheel designed to help alert hearing impaired drivers when emergency vehicles are approaching. A team from Tenaya Middle School developed a plan for a smartphone app that notifies asthma sufferers when their inhalers are running low.
Other district winners included two Cruickshank students who analyzed the stress levels of various walnut trees to determine which type is the most drought tolerant and a Hoover student who focused on the way fear changes with age. The elementary projects were equally impressive, including two Burbank fifth graders who studied magnetic field disruption and a Chenoweth sixth grader who used her coding skills to create a video game that provides sound cues for the visually impaired.
These are just some of the many remarkable entries that took top honors. You can find the complete list of winners on our district website, www.mcsd.k12.ca.us. The difficult job of judging was done by community members who have backgrounds in science and/or engineering. We are so appreciative of the time those volunteers spent carefully considering each project to select grade level winners as well as overall district winners. We were also fortunate this year to have several local experts provide support for our students ahead of the science fair during three separate “Ask a Scientist or Engineer” nights, which were also held at the STEAM Center.
Now the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade district winners are preparing for the next round of competition at the countywide STEM Fair hosted by the Merced County Office of Education in March. Last year, our students swept the top three spots and went on to compete at the California State Science Fair in Los Angeles. It was an excellent learning experience for the students and staff members who attended, and we hope more of our young scientists will have that opportunity this year. We also hope our students’ passion for solving problems and helping others continues well into the future as they become the innovators, educators, and leaders of tomorrow.
Sara Sandrik, an Emmy Award-winning former journalist, is the public information officer for the Merced City School District. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.