District STEM Fair Information
The 2017 Provo City School District STEM Fair will be held at Dixon Middle School on Friday, February 17th, 2017.
Students from each school throughout the district have qualified to present their work at the district level and compete for the opportunity to advance to the Central Utah STEM Fair.
- Download STEM Fair Entry Forms
- Register for the Science Fair
- Upload STEM Fair Entry Forms
- Judging Criterion / Questions for Judges to Ask (PDF)
Definition: What STEM is, What STEM isn’t
Science is the careful application of a specific skills and processes with the intent of discovering the mechanisms that govern how the universe functions. Science is not based on individual opinion, rather it relies heavily on repeatable experiences and experiments to increase knowledge.
The universal language of science is Latin. Most terms are combinations of Latin prefixes, roots, and suffixes. As an example, the Latin prefix ‘bio’ means ‘of life’ and the Latin suffix ‘ology’ means ‘to study’, thus biology becomes the study of life.
The state of Utah has divided science into three main categories: Earth Science, Life Science, and Physical Science. Students are introduced to concepts from each of these disciplines in an integrated science model from kindergarten through eighth grade. In high school, students are given the option to choose specific courses to focus their studies on, however students are required to take courses from both the life and physical sciences areas for graduation.
Earth Science is the study of the history and processes that affect the Earth and its neighbors in space. Earth Science includes but is not limited to geology, meteorology, oceanography, and astronomy.
- Geology deals with the composition of Earth’s materials, structures, and processes. Geologists also study the organisms of the planet and how the planet has changed over time. Many industries employ geologists in the search for fuels and minerals, studying natural hazards, and working to protect Earth’s environment. Utah is famous for the variety of its geological features and people from all over the world travel here to visit the natural wonders formed by eons of geological forces sculpting the landscape.
- Meteorology is the study of the atmosphere and how processes in the atmosphere determine Earth’s weather and climate. Meteorology is one of the most talked about and practical of all of the sciences because everyone is concerned with the weather. Weather has a direct, daily impact on all of our lives. The long-term weather of a region is known as climate.
- Oceanography is the study of the composition, movement, organisms and processes of Earth’s vast oceans. The fact that a large portion of Earth’s surface is covered by liquid water makes Earth unique among the known planets The oceans also have a major influence on the weather and changes in the oceans can drive or moderate climate.
- Astronomy is the study of the universe. A knowledge of astronomy is essential to understanding the Earth. Many things on Earth are influenced by processes taking place in space. These include the ocean’s tidal system which is driven by the moon’s orbit around Earth, weather and climate cycles that are influenced by varying amounts of solar energy, and major cataclysmic events that have been caused by impacts from meteorites. Astronomers can also use a knowledge of Earth materials, processes and history to understand other planets – even those outside of our own solar system.
Life Science is the study of living organisms and their interactions with their environment. Life Science is perhaps the largest branch of all of the disciplines. It includes such fields as medicine, health, biology, agriculture, zoology, genetics, microbiology, conservation, marine biology, entomology, botany, taxonomy, behavioral science, psychology, biotechnology, etc. Earth’s vast wealth of living organisms has allowed many scientists to specialize their work on a small group of organisms or a single organism.
Physical Science is the study of the interactions of matter and energy. Physical Science encompasses many branches of study including classical physics, modern physics, and chemistry. Many topics in Physical Science overlap with those of Earth Science and Life Science.
- Physics is the application of mathematics to help understand how matter and energy interact at the molecular level and on a larger scale throughout the universe. Physics also deals with describing and quantifying forces acting on objects.
- Chemistry is the study of how various elements and molecules interact with each other and the energy involved in these interactions. Our universe is made up of a limited number of elements that have specific characteristics. These are organized on the Periodic Table of Elements. Chemists seek to find new ways to combine these limited resources to provide useful products and solutions for the world’s growing needs.
Things we are doing in Provo City School District
Provo City School District believes a critical component of a student’s success in science is linked to integrating concepts in a STEM model and philosophy. This increases our students’ abilities to be better problem solvers and access curriculum concepts at a greater depth of knowledge.
Provo City School District provides instruction based on the Utah Core Standards for Science.
Students in kindergarten through eighth grade students are taught science using an integrated model that teaches concepts from each of the three main disciplines each year. These concepts are designed to build on each other from year to year as students progress through their education.
High school offers students an opportunity to explore each discipline in greater depth. Our high schools offer courses in Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Geology, and more. These classes also present content in an integrated model with concepts from each of the complementary disciplines reinforced and tied into the content being taught.
Provo School District also provides an annual STEM Fair to highlight students knowledge and work in science as well as across all STEM areas. The vision of the Provo STEM Fair is:
To engage students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and to provide an opportunity for students to investigate and excel in practical solutions to real world questions and problems.
Schools in the District are encouraged, supported, and trained in how to run their own school-level STEM Fairs in preparation for the District STEM Fair. Students selected to come to the District STEM Fair can be selected to progress to the Region Level.
How a Student Can be Successful
Methods for quality science research are well established. These are known as experimental design components.
When a question about how something is happening is encountered, scientists start to investigate that question by identifying the information that they already know relating to their question. Then they analyze what it is that they do not know. This should lead them to do some background research relating to their question. Based on their research, scientists will often form inferences about how they might answer their question. This background research will help them to devise a plan to further investigate their question and inferences.
The key to quality experimentation is knowing how to setup and control the various variables that are involved. Scientists work with three different types of variables – independent variables, dependent variables, and controlled variables.
- The independent variable is the aspect of the experiment that is being tested to determine if it can explain how a phenomenon is happening. It is critical that an experiment have only ONE independent variable in order to positively link the results to that variable.
- The dependent variable can be thought of the ‘measured results’ of the experiment. The dependent variable should be chosen carefully so that it will correlate to the question. It is possible to have multiple dependent variables in an experiment. In fact, sometimes, it is necessary to monitor several dependent variables in order to get a true picture of what is really happening during an experiment.
- The controlled variables are all of the aspects of an experiment that help to make it valid. These are the ‘testing conditions’ that should be kept the same throughout all of the different trials and iterations of the experimentation. If these are not kept the same, results can vary widely and it will not be possible to get consistent data from an experiment.
Scientists, by their very nature, are careful observers and strive to be good communicators. Observation is one of the most fundamental skills every scientist relies on. Successful scientists are careful note takers and journal writers. Learning to reflect on questions and results, and keep meticulous notes during an experiment are critical skills. Experiments must be repeatable to be valid and without excellent notes, it is not possible to repeat experiments accurately. Scientists must also be able to write and draw to communicate their ideas well. Before a scientific idea is accepted, it must pass review by several peers. Only then will it be accepted for publication. Science is a constantly changing field seeking for revision, refinement, and increased knowledge.
Resources and Materials for Teachers
Provo School District supports and adheres to the State Requirements for textbook selection and adoption, however the resources and materials individual teachers use to design labs and other activities for students vary throughout the district depending on grade level and subject.
Teachers at each school participate in professional learning communities where they discuss the needs of their students. We encourage you to speak to your student’s teacher about which resources they are currently using.
Science is an information rich discipline. It combines skills in literacy, numeracy, art, and critical thinking. Reading provides the means to acquaint oneself with current levels of knowledge. Mathematics allows for the analysis and comparison of data gathered during experimentation. Writing and illustrating allow for the communication of results, abstract concepts, new ideas, and general information. Scientists must also be aware of and sensitive to the human impacts of their work and implications on the natural world that their findings might have. This requires a knowledge of social sciences and history. Many disciplines of science also rely heavily on advanced technology to further their research and scientists working in these fields must be familiar with new and emerging forms of technology and are often part of the process of inventing this technology.