By Belinda Raines
The Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation (CGIF) and The American Ceramic Society (ACerS) were sponsors and participants of STEMfest!, held at The Works in Newark, OH, on Saturday, February 29 and Sunday, March 1, 2020.
STEMFest! is an annual STEM event that engages middle and high school students in design-based problem-solving challenges from a variety of disciplines that relate to what scientists and engineers encounter every day in their careers.
Students are encouraged to form a team, or work individually, to solve a real-world STEM problem developed by area businesses and organizations. Winners receive awards as well as potential scholarships and internships. The teams select one of three or four “Problem Solving Challenges” and present their designs and solutions to a panel of judges during the STEMfest! competition.
Students, their parents, and members of the public also had the chance to learn about STEM careers during the hands-on career displays and discussions portion of the event. CGIF staff members were on hand to perform some demonstrations from the Materials Science Classroom Kit, as well as discuss career pathways in the area of ceramics and glass science and engineering.
The 2020 Problem Solving Challenges were:
- Materials Engineering – Engineered Concrete: Sponsored by The American Ceramic Society and Central Ohio Technical College
- Engineering Design – Bridge Architecture: Presented by Newark City Engineers and Central Ohio Technical College (middle school only)
- Environmental Impact Challenge – Pollution & Water Quality: Presented by Denison University Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
- Thermal Energy Challenge – Home Insulation Efficiency: Presented by Owens Corning Science and Technology Center
The Engineered Concrete design challenge presented by ACerS and the CGIF was adapted from the lesson of the same name included in the Materials Science Classroom Kit that was originally developed by members of the PCSA. Participating design challenge students received instructions and the materials for the competition in November 2019 and completed research and concrete design, mixing, and testing of multiple iterations of their products over the course of several months as preparation for the STEMfest! event.
ACerS and the CGIF wish to thank Milind Pawar, ACerS member and graduate student at The Ohio State University, for serving as a judge for the Engineered Concrete design challenge.
The STEMfest! design challenge program can be viewed at https://attheworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/STEMfest2020_HighSchool.pdf