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Pioneer hosts annual Science and Art Fair
ARLINGTON — Pioneer Elementary’s annual Science and Art Fair on Friday, May 17, turned STEM into STEAM by debuting a new theme this year, “STEAM into Science.”
According to Kari Pendray, a member of the Advisory Council for Education for Pioneer Elementary, the school’s students added an A for art to the STEM acronym of science, technology, engineering and math.
“The idea is that much of STEM requires the use of art in design, problem-solving and creative thinking, all of which are highly sought-after skills needed in current and future employment markets,” Pendray said.
The Pioneer Elementary Science and Art Fair has increased its participants from 80 in 2010 to 250 in 2013.
“The fair continues to grow in size, likely because of the momentum in science that has been building over the last three years,” Pendray said. “You can’t miss the enormous smiles you see on the students’ faces, as they beam with delight when they bring in their science experiments. Kids are learning by doing, and the work is fun because they get to do hands-on experiments in the process.”
From iguana studies to creating energy from pickles, the fair’s subjects are limited only by the imaginations of the kindergarten through fifth-grade students.
“It’s really great to see how what we’re teaching is actually applied in their projects,” said Molly Ahrens, a fifth-grade teacher at Pioneer Elementary who graded the students’ projects.
One Pioneer Elementary student, Angela Gotera, found herself moved by more than mere scientific inquiry. Her project sought to measure “How Horses Keep Warm,” by considering the circulation of air and how the direction a horse faces against the wind keeps their body temperature warm.
“The Science and Art Fair inspired me to ponder harder about the world, and made me want to be a doctor when I grow up,” Gotera said.
Pendray noted that parental involvement is a key ingredient of the fair, since students not only learn the science in school, but also do their projects at home.
“The trick is finding the right balance between project guidance and allowing children enough independence at their age level,” Pendray said. “The more that parents, teachers and the community can gently guide children in the direction of their interests, the more momentum children can gain towards reaching their dreams.”
“Every Science and Art Fair poses both a challenge and an opportunity for our children to think and learn,” said Chie Gotera, Angela’s mom. “That is a great thing.”
Another newly added feature this year included community participants. This year’s fair enhanced participation from community members through the Arlington Apple Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, which created hands-on science investigations for students using magnets, colored water tubs and sparkle clay to show the “science of play,” as well as the Arlington-based Aerospace Manufacturing Technologies, which created a display to show how airplane parts are made.
“Community partners show students what science looks like in the real world, and send a message that we care about what the students are doing,” said Brian Gross, project manager at AMT.
“I truly want to thank the Science and Art Fair Committee for their vision and continual facilitation of this wonderful event, as well as our teachers, parents and community members,” said Karl Olson, principal of Pioneer Elementary. “By combining the arts with science, we can highlight the wonderful work and creativity of so many of our students. The best part is that these experiences will spark future directions for many students, and encourage them to strive for careers and activities in these areas. Each year, this event grows larger, more families attend and students get to show off what they’ve learned.”