Sussex County STEM Fair
Sponsored by the Sussex County STEM Alliance & Lewes Library
November 5, 2022
The first annual Sussex County STEM Fair took place on November 5th at the Lewes Public Library. Open to all K-5 students, the STEM Fair was proudly sponsored by the Sussex County STEM Alliance and the Lewis Public Library, with generous support from the Carl M. Freeman Foundation FACES Grant.
The inaugural STEM Fair saw an excellent turnout from students who had submitted projects, all competing in various STEM categories as either individuals or groups. The purpose of the Sussex County STEM Fair is to showcase and celebrate the scientific experiences of elementary school students while also actively encouraging and stimulating independent inquiries into critical STEM topics outside of class work. As such, the STEM Fair presents a new and exciting opportunity for engaging participants to display their unique scientific pursuits and talents.
Among those in attendance was Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Mark Holodick. Dr. Holodick, along with the STEM Fair judges at the event, visited each student’s display and engaged with the children as they explained what they were trying to figure out in their experiments. At the closing ceremony, Dr. Holodick extended the support of the Delaware Department of Education, encouraging and praising both parents and students in their collective role in maintaining the state’s strong foundation for STEM which begins at the K-5 level. He also presented medals to two volunteer students from Milford High School who played an active role in supporting the day’s success.
“What impressed me today, beyond what the kids were doing, is the fact that we have kids who are homeschooled here; kids that are in Montessori educational programs; kids that are in public schools,” Dr. Holodick said. “They all have one thing in common, which is that they are engaged because their parents are engaged.” Moreover, the diversity of backgrounds and interests of participants was reflected in the breadth of STEM concepts which were explored in students’ projects. From the origins of the Moon’s craters, or the speeds of different objects in freefall, to experiments testing the thermodynamics of a balloon or the effectiveness of different liquids in dissolving Skittles, students’ projects encompassed all areas of science, technology, engineering, and math.
Aiden Wilkinson, a student who participated in the Life Science category and who is a frequent visitor of the Lewes Library, investigated the potential negative effects of different sugary drinks on teeth and dental health in his project. He ultimately received a 1st place award as a competitor in the Grades 4 & 5 Life Science category at the event. “I’m trying to figure out which soda or sugary drink is the worst for your teeth, and I used eggs because eggs and teeth are both made out of the same thing, which is calcium,” Aiden said. “Calcium, on a tooth, protects the inside, like the pulp. And on an egg, it protects, of course, the yolk.” Melanie Wilkinson, Aiden’s mother, described how the STEM Fair was the ideal opportunity for Aiden to present his experiments alongside other like-minded students of STEM. “When this science fair came around, he was like, ‘That’s the one I wanna do,’” Wilkinson said. “He just had the curiosity of wanting to see really what would happen [to the eggs]… He loves being hands-on with experiments, he loves the cause and effect in chemical reactions and things like that. And that’s the great thing about STEM, is that there’s such a range.”
For the STEM Fair’s conclusion, students received awards and prizes for their projects, including STEM equipment that would continue to cultivate students’ spark for STEM, from portable digital microscopes and full-size astronomy telescopes to kits for erupting volcanoes and terrariums. Several students also received a monthly STEM box subscription as part of their winnings.
Awards were given based on three different sections of K-5:
Grades K-1 Section
Grades 2-3 Section
Grades 4-5 Section