Over 300 students, ranging from kindergarteners to seniors in high school, packed into Union Station’s north waiting room on a chilly St. Patrick’s Day to showcase over 200 working STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) experiments to the general public as part of KC STEM Fest.
The experiments were the work of Frontier Schools’ students.
“We have two projects per table and each one represents the work of our students,” said Jennifer Watson, Frontier Schools Director of Community Engagement. “We’re just super proud of all they’ve done and where this could take them in terms of education and their career.”
After four years of not hosting the event, Frontier Schools Superintendent Ugur Demircan said that he is really excited to bring this event back. The last time the KC STEM Fest event was planned to take place in 2020, it was canceled one day before it was supposed to take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The one-day annual event that began in 2016 is a free STEM-focused festival that serves as a platform for students to showcase various science projects and research.
“We are a STEM focused district,” Demircan said. “We want students to demonstrate what they learn and present to the public in Kansas City. This is an opportunity for students to learn more about STEM, develop their social skills, and share their projects to the public, these are great benefits for them.”
Freshman Mariana de la Cueva said that it made her happy to have the opportunity to teach others about the different things they could do with science.
“This lets me have more experience in feeling more comfortable presenting around other people, doing research, and being able to simplify and put together a presentation,” de la Cueva said.
Although she has presented in KC STEM Fest before as a fifth grader, de la Cueva said that she felt more experienced this time around.
“I know more of what I’m doing this time around,” she explained. “I feel more comfortable, I can explain it to little kids and it’s nice to see them be interested.”
Dulce Banda, an 8th grader at Frontier, showed the effects of gravity and inertia with her roller coaster exhibit. Banda’s roller coaster took her roughly two weeks to build and demonstrated how a ball or sphere uses its own weight as energy as it tracks downward along the track, finally dropping into a holding bowl.
Allison Martinez, a Frontier 9th grader, demonstrated the inversion of germs by taking swabs from various locations around the school then isolating those swabs in sealed Petri dishes, ultimately growing bacteria. Martinez swabbed higher traffic areas around her school to demonstrate how quickly bacteria can grow. She also noted in her experiment the need for good bacteria such as in our digestive systems.
Arianna Sanchez, Leslie Castenera and Samantha Mendez, all Frontier seniors, designed and constructed three different scale models of houses using a variety of material including popsicle sticks, coroplast and spray paint. Starting with nothing more than a photograph, they created the interior floor plan then started their actual build, showcasing the finished product that demonstrated the need for science and math education in not only the design of their houses, but also taking into consideration the climate in which the house is to be built.
In addition to the development of new skills, some students said that it allows them to do career exploration, as well as share important information with others. Senior Aliyn Gonzalez, who showcased research and information on how to properly dispose of personal protective equipment and pH levels of local water sources, said that before her own research, she didn’t know the importance of properly disposing items.
“Now, after I’ve been testing and researching, it helped me learn how to take care of my own community and bring awareness to this,” Gonzalez said.
The two-hour event drew students from all over the metro to tour and interact with the Frontier students and their experiments.