By Bobby Ellis
When science fairs roll around, there’s usually a class favorite as to who will win. There is always that small group of students who excel at science and data gathering who seem to run away with the top science fair prize every year.
Jaymee Clemens, a STEM teacher at Crossroads Elementary (Bullitt County) and the Bullitt County district STEM coordinator, decided she wanted to do something that would help other kids not only have a chance to win science competitions, but also would help them become more interested in science and math.
“I was the science fair coordinator six years ago and we did the traditional science fair projects. I wanted to make them different and make kids care about furthering their education in these fields, so we came up with have a districtwide STEM Challenge,” said Clemens. “The kids love this because it’s all them, and it’s kids who traditionally may not be able to show their technical or critical thinking skills with a traditional science fair.”
At each STEM Challenge event, school teams are given a project to complete and then compete against each other to see who came up with the best solution. At a recent event, students from Bullitt County elementary schools competed in primary (K-2) and intermediate (3-5) classes. Each group was trying to make the best rubber band powered car from a box of provided supplies.
“It makes us pay closer attention in math and science classes,” said Delaney Lawson, a student at Brooks Elementary and team member of the DIY Glitter Squad, the Brooks intermediate STEM Challenge team. “It’s really exciting that we get to actually work on projects and put the stuff we learn into practice.”
The DIY Glitter Squad put what they learned as part of the STEM Challenge to good use, as they came away with first place in the intermediate competition.
“They’re a gifted group of girls,” said Sharron Robertson, the STEM Lab teacher at Brooks Elementary, who coached the DIY Glitter Squad. “This whole thing, it gets the kids excited about STEM. It meets the criteria of being ‘real world’ and about problem solving and thinking. All those things make it fun and engaging for them.”
Clemens said the STEM Challenge also helps expose Bullitt County students to future careers.
“We do graphic design, we do robotics, and all of that is just becoming more common in the school system,” said Clemens. “I definitely see a huge interest from the kids in these different careers that this opens their eyes to.”