Merced Students Shine at Science Fair
My last column was all about arts education in the Merced City School District, as we prepared for our second annual Spotlight show at the historic Merced Theatre on Feb. 23.
That event turned out to be such a special experience for our students. I could see their excitement as they waited eagerly backstage for their turn to perform for their families in that grand venue. Groups from all of our 18 schools plus our preschool program treated the audience to everything from band performances to dance routines to powerful speeches and inspiring songs.
I loved seeing the variety of opportunities our students have to think creatively and expand their horizons, and I truly hope their families enjoyed it too. We are also extremely thankful to all of the teachers, administrators, support staff, and parents who made it all possible.
While the arts are one important part of our STEAM program, so are the subjects represented by each of the other letters (science, technology, engineering and math).
Our schools have been hosting science fairs over the past several days, and on Wednesday the top three projects from each elementary school and top six from each middle school were presented during a district-wide science fair at our Professional Development Center on Brookdale Avenue. They included everything from wind power experiments to a test of drinking water quality to a video game for the blind.
The students behind those projects shared their work with eight judges from a variety of sectors throughout our community, including representatives from UC Merced, the Merced County Office of Education, the Grassland Environmental Education Center and other professionals with backgrounds in science and engineering.
I had a chance to speak with one of the judges — Lynn Reimer, the director of Education Programs for the University Extension for UC Merced.
“It was wonderful to see the creativity of the students and to hear their thought process, to see what about a particular project they were interested in, and for some of them the problem-solving that they did that they tried many times and when something wasn’t working, they tried something else,” she said.
She went on to say, “It’s wonderful when we see our students taking a situation and considering different ways to solve a hiccup in the process. It shows their creative thinking. It shows that they’re taking knowledge from different sources and making something better, and that is absolutely 21st century skills.”
After a difficult deliberation, the judges managed to choose the top 20 projects from our district, which will move on the Merced County STEM fair on March 22. That event will be held at the Merced County Fairgrounds and is organized by MCOE.
We want to wish all of our students the best of luck and to let them know how proud we are to see them shine, from the stage to the science lab and beyond.
Sara Sandrik, an Emmy Award-winning former journalist, is the public information officer for the Merced City School District. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.