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Innovation blooms at STEM fest

By Ray Huard

Couple imagination with some science, a dash of technology, some math and a touch of engineering and who knows what will result.

That’s the challenge put to Vista Unified School District students for STEM Fest, scheduled for 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. March 11 at Vista High School, 1 Panther Drive.

The festival is free and open to the public.

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and STEM Fest is an expo where district students from kindergarten through high school will display projects that incorporate those skills.

They’ll also get a chance to learn about careers that incorporate those skills from representatives of regional colleges and universities and high tech/biotech firms like Thermo Fisher Scientific and Open Source Maker Labs, who will be at STEM Fest.

“It will really expose a lot of our students to things they didn’t even know existed and open up a world of possibility of what they might do in the future,” said Michelle Gosnell, a content support resource teacher and a coordinator of STEM Fest.

The expo also will be a chance for students to show the community what they’re studying and how they’re putting it into practice, Gosnell said.

The theme this year is “building the world of tomorrow,” said Kellie Fleming, a STEM teacher on special assignment as a festival coordinator with Gosnell.

“What we’re hoping is that when kids were thinking about their STEM project, they were thinking about an invention that might be seen in the future,” Fleming said. “The whole purpose is to create awareness of what STEM is for our students, community members and teachers.”

About 300 projects will be on display, dealing with everything from robots and computer coding to aquaphonics and native plant studies, Gosnell said.

“Our VUSD STEM Fest is a great opportunity for our community to see the incredible learning experiences our students are receiving in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math,” said Larry White, executive director of curriculum, instruction and educational technology.

“In our country, there is a high job demand for STEM-related jobs.  We want to encourage and support our students in the STEM area,” White said.