Programmable robotics vehicles traversed the carpeted terrain of Penn High School’s Instructional Materials Center on Wednesday, May 25.
A few feet away, Penn students displayed blueprints for Habitat for Humanity houses.
Another group of Penn students displayed an adjustable and rotating table constructed for people with physical disabilities.
Penn High School’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) Academy conducted STEM Expo to showcase the cutting-edge creations of the STEM Academy students.
“The students were apprehensive and nervous before the event but they performed like rock stars,” Penn High School STEM instructor Josiah Parker said. “They really enjoyed showing off their accomplishments and the event made them feel like what they did was a big deal and well worth it.
“I heard nothing but positive things from the community,” Parker said. “They were impressed with how well the students could explain their projects and the type of work high school students were completing. Some of the responses I heard the most were, "We didn't have anything like this when I was in school." and "I can't believe high school students are completing this type of work."
Penn High School junior Bailey Mott said that the STEM Expo enhanced student learning.
“Knowing your work is going to be presented to the public, you want to work harder, so when people are walking around, you want them to look at your project and say, ‘That one’s really good.”
Mott said that the feedback process gives students a glimpse of what it’s like when they have careers, and it gave the public a look at the talents of high school students.
“It was awesome,” Mott said. “People got to come in and see how hard we’ve worked all year. They don’t know how much we actually do in high school.”
Rachel Fry, the STEM Academy leader, said that she found it rewarding to see the students display enthusiasm about their projects.
“I loved that the students were excited to share their work, explaining the process with passion and showcasing their final product!” Fry said. “I enjoyed talking to students about other courses they are taking in high school or post-secondary education and how it relates to their future career goals. We plan to expand this next year to include many more STEM Academy courses, because students produce a plethora of great work!”
Penn’s STEM Expo was the end result of a process that included communication, time management, presentation and teamwork. It enabled students to work in a collaborative setting that included planning and revision, and heightened critical thinking skills.
“It allows students to demonstrate that they can use the content and process learned from the class and apply it to a project,” Parker said. “The students use the event to receive feedback on their designs so that they can re-evaluate and re-design.”