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STEM fair displays students' projects

Jefferson Elementary school fourth grader Briella Anderson, 10, (center) explains to her father Chris and seven-year-old brother Zachary how water flows down river using the raised map that her class built for the Everett School District’s STEM Fair at Jackson High School on Thursday, May 29.

Sometimes, math, technology and teamwork are vital to creating a realistic piece of art.
Teacher Aaron Holmberg’s fourth grade class from Jefferson Elementary School presented a model of Glacier Peak, approximately 3-foot-by-10-foot, at the second annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Fair on May 29. 
Underpinning the structure is something nobody would suspect: paper towel tubes and toilet paper rolls.
To create the model, Holmberg’s class created a grid on an elevation map and a comparable grid on the base of the model. They then paired up to calculate the proper elevation in each section and cut a paper towel roll at a ratio of one inch of cardboard tube per 1,000 feet of elevation on Glacier Peak.
Students then helped lay paper on top of the tubes and painted it.
“I really emphasized it being a project that involves science, technology, engineering and math, but I also had the kids understand that when you do one big thing, it involves a lot of teamwork,” Holmberg said. “If everyone is faithfully doing their part, it will turn into something bigger.”
On the completed model, it is easy to see how the snow melts off of
the mountain and into streams below, making a lesson on watershed possible. Orange tape was placed on the model to highlight watershed pathways on Glacier Peak.
Three years ago, Holmberg had his class create a similar model of the entire state of Washington.
This year, he wanted to focus on one geographic feature within the state and allow his students to do more of the calculations and building.
“The previous one was great but it had a lot of the teacher’s hands on it,” he said. “This one seems more of an authentic piece. The kids worked a lot more on it.”
Finding the time to complete such a complex project was the biggest challenge Holmberg said that he and his class faced. Some put in time after school and on the weekend to paint it.
“We were super satisfied to have the kids and families all excited together about making something together,” Holmberg said.
Other projects at the STEM Fair included a comparison on how well seeds grow in various kinds of soil, flight successes of different styles of paper airplanes and a project creating simple circuits. 
The fair was created by the Everett School District last year to show parents and the community some of the projects elementary and middle school students are doing in their classrooms.

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