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On March 7th, Google once again sponsored TAF@Saghalie’s STEM Expo. Every grade, divided into small groups, presented a project or prototype they created to solve a real-world problem. It took dozens of volunteers and months of student ingenuity to come together in an impressive showing of the power of interdisciplinary project-based learning.

⚗️🦠 6th Grade 🔬🧬

6th grade customized the driving question: How do we mitigate the impacts of an environmental factor on an organ system? by choosing their environmental factor and organ system.

It was an interdisciplinary project, as they answered the question in the form of a book following a hero’s journey narrative. At the same time, using science and math, their stories accurately portrayed how body systems actually work.

On STEM Expo day, students presented to judges who played potential book buyers.

🪐🌍 7th Grade 🌍🪐

7th graders explored the question: As Earth is depleted of its resources, how can we consider the exploration and settlement of other planets in our galaxy?

They imagined being hired by NASA to find a real, habitable exoplanet to move humans to. Each group built a museum exhibit about their planet and pitched an argument to judges for why it was the best place to live.

Some of the exoplanets were cold or warm or had different amounts of gravity, so students had to craft persuasive arguments about their planets’ geography, politics, and living conditions into their presentations.

🤝 8th Grade 🤝

8th graders partnered with a community member to provide a high-tech solution to a problem they face. For example, a colorful and quiet fidget toy for seniors at Aegis Living or a stool for young visitors to MaST Aquarium that alerts people if someone tries to remove it from the aquarium.

High School

9th and 10th grades tackled the question: How can we make a specific resource for well-being more accessible to our community? with mobile well-being units.

From that came ideas like a mobile gym and a mobile BabyMobile to care for women of color and their newborns.

11th and 12th graders answered: How can we improve upon a medical intervention already being used by a member of our community?

They interviewed someone being treated for a medical condition and then wrote to the company requesting changes based on the patient’s feedback.

Another option for high schoolers was: How do we measure and reduce water consumption at our school? They partnered with Lake Have Conservation to implement water conservation strategies at TAF@Saghalie.

💪 STEM Challenges 💪

Between presentations, students also had STEM challenges to complete.

The two tasks were to use their engineering skills to build the tallest balloon tower and the sturdiest spaghetti bridge. The balloon tower had to stand independently, and the spaghetti bridges were tested by being weighed down with buckets of sand.

From sponsorship by Google to the many community volunteers to the community-centered driving questions, it was a day where students at TAF@Saghalie really got to see how their learning connects to the world outside of their school building.

This will only continue as top projects from the day took part in our Varsity Luncheon and will have the opportunity to take trips to Microsoft and The Museum of Flight. It will also continue as students improve on their projects the rest of the year and take on another driving question next year.


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