Above, students show off their engineering skills by designing solutions to problems at the Trash for Teaching booth. (Photo by Craig Sipes)

A student explores the structure and function of animals at the San Fernando Middle School booth. (Photo by Craig Sipes)

By Heinrich Sartin
K-12 Science Specialist
Local District Northeast

As Earth Day celebrations kicked off all over the globe, Local District Northeast celebrated April 22 by holding its first-ever STEM Fest at Roy Romer Middle School in North Hollywood, where nearly 800 students, parents and employees experienced a memorable day of inspiration, exploration and fun. By all accounts, it was a huge success!

Alma Peña-Sanchez, chief of staff to Superintendent Michelle King, kicked off the morning by welcoming the Local District Northeast community and inviting them to learn more about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education.

Local District Superintendent Linda Del Cueto also extended a warm welcome to the crowd, including those who arrived on complimentary shuttle buses from Panorama, San Fernando, Sun Valley and Verdugo Senior High schools.

Francis Poly Technical High School student Angela Lopez, an aspiring entrepreneur, shows off her business plan, which includes details of financing, pricing and promotion. (Photo by Craig Sipes)

“Happy Earth Day!” she said. “Our students – your children – are proud to show off what they are learning in the all-important STEM fields. Learn from them, or along with them, from the experiments, the presentations and the displays.”

Students learned, for example, that just 0.1 percent of college students graduate with math degrees, although banks hire 90 percent of math majors and would hire three times more if they were available.

College and career readiness and its intersection with STEM-related fields was the theme of the morning’s keynote session, which was led by Hall Davidson, Discovery Education’s director of Global Learning Initiatives. Through a series of interactive demonstrations, he showed the audience in the packed auditorium how emerging educational technologies can ignite students’ innate curiosity and inspire their sense of wonder.

Victory Elementary students Christina Khalulyan and Ariel Beltran present wildlife artifacts from their recent school science field trip. (Photo by Craig Sipes)

Proudly wearing a bright blue STEM Fest T-shirt, Del Cueto visited school and community partner booths to chat with students, parents, and teachers about the importance of STEM education in our schools.

Engaging and informative workshops for parents and teachers provided opportunities to learn how science, technology, engineering, and math can be integrated through project-based learning opportunities in which students answer complex questions and devise innovative solutions to real-world problems.

“The Northeast STEM Fest was a fun, informative, and hands-on community event showcasing all of the great STEM and STEAM education opportunities throughout our Local District,” said Olive Vista Middle School Principal Rodney Wright. “We are truly a district on the move!”

Looking ahead to the fall of 2018, the Local District Northeast STEM Fest team is already planning to expand the number of participating schools and attendees to make their 2nd annual STEM Fest an even greater success.