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The Dupont Park Adventist School’s annual STEM Fair

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“I thought of the idea for this experiment because I love music and I wanted to see what effect different styles of music have on the circulatory system,” said Madeline in front of her poster titled “I Love Music.” Her poster described an experiment she performed where she hoped to determine the effect of different genres of music on the cardiac function of the participants in the study. Her test subjects listened to numerous genres of music including gospel, rap, and rock among others and then their blood pressure was measured. Her poster was one of many at Dupont Park Adventist School’s annual STEM Fair (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

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On Dec. 19, Dupont Park Adventist School hosted its annual STEM fair for students in grades six, seven and eight at their Massachusetts Avenue campus. The goal of the fair was to get expose the students to STEM, re-enforce what they had been taught about the scientific method, and to get them to think of their own potential experiments based upon their personal interests and ideas they could find through research. Each experiment was summarized on a poster.

Volunteer judges from the community were asked to come and participate in the fair to help score the student’s posters, and also to give them feedback and pointers. The posters were graded based upon:

• The generation of a hypothesis
• Clear identification of dependent and independent variables
• Clear description of the methods and procedures using metric units, and use of multiple trials
• Interpretation of results
• Conclusions, potential future experiments and relevance to the real world

“I thought the brownies would have a greater thickness when I added 15 milliliters (ml) of baking soda to the mixture,” said another student named Anaiyah who aspires to pursue the culinary arts one day. “The opposite of my hypothesis occurred which was that the more baking soda I added, the less thickness the brownies had.”

In her experiment titled “Will the Best Brownies Please Rise,” Anaiyah had designed a study where she titrated different amounts of baking soda (the independent variable) into a brownie mixture and then measured the thickness of the brownies (the dependent variable).

“I think the brownies sunk because the baking soda contributed too much acid to the system,” Anaiyah continued when asked to give an explanation of her results. That led to a discussion where it was suggested to her that there actually may have been too much base added to her brownie mixtures since the active ingredient in baking soda is actually the base sodium bicarbonate.

Other students received similar feedback and debriefing on various aspects of their posters which described experiments testing numerous other ideas. Among them were Soda Meltdown, It’s Crystal Clear, So Long Soil, 3-2-1 Blastoff, and many others.

“Our students like STEM, though there are some parts that they are averse to like the math but they do enjoy doing experiments,” said Mrs. Donna Fields who teaches science at the Dupont Park Adventist School and organizes the STEM fair when asked whether or not her students enjoy science. “They like explaining orally but struggle with the writing at times. They like to discover.”

In addition to their STEM fair, the Dupont Adventist School periodically invites STEM practitioners from the community to come talk to the students about their careers and to give science demonstrations as well.

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