By Jane Primerano
ROXBURY TWP. – The Roxbury Township Public Schools are calling all tech-geeks, budding engineers, math geniuses and young artists to the Eisenhower Middle School gym from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 9, for the Roxbury STEAM Expo: Seeds of Sustainability.
The Expo is open to students in kindergarten through sixth grade and looking for projects in the fields of plant, animal, food and human science or physics and chemistry. Entrants are encouraged to determine what is the problem or need, who has the problem or need and why it is important to solve. They are asked to look at needs they have themselves or needs of another person or group. Then they are to create a list of needs, a “mind map.”
The school is also seeking vendors to help support the expo. They are reaching out to PTA and PTO groups, local businesses, non-profit groups and teachers to help with the fund raising and other aspects of the expo. The school put out several informational flyers for potential entrants.
One lists science and engineering practices: Asking questions and defining problems, developing and using models, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, using mathematical and computational thinking, constructing explanations and designing solutions, engaging in argument from data and obtaining, evaluating and communicating information.
A second flyer compares the engineering design process with the scientific method. It explains to the students that scientists and engineers have different objectives.
Scientists study such things as how nature works while engineers create new things, new products but also websites, environments and experiences. Because of these different objectives scientists and engineers follow different processes. Scientists use the aptly named scientific method to perform experiments but engineers follow the creativity-based engineering design process. Both of these processes can be broken down in steps.
The steps of the engineering design process are delineated: Define the problem, do background research, specify requirements, brainstorm solutions, choose the best solution, do development work, build a prototype and test and redesign.
The information on the flyer points out engineers don’t always follow the engineering design process in that formal order, one after the other. Sometimes they design something, test it, find a program and then go back to an earlier step to make a modification or change to the original design. This way of working is called iteration.