Different weekend, same location this year. Different weekend because there was a conflict for the third weekend in May.
All registration documents, which include the Summary and Approval form, and the student registration form, are due to us no later than Friday, April 25, 2014. These forms are electronic, and can be found on our Office of Science Web site.
Show navigation to website, and show access to word version of STEM Fair handbook. The document will only be available electronically on the BCPS Intranet (for now). It has a searchable Table of Contents. If you want a hard copy of the document, you will need to print it yourself. It will not be available to order through Print and Copy.This is a pilot year for the STEM Fair changes. Teachers/schools choosing to put off implementation until next year may do so. Students participating in this year’s BCPS STEM Fair will not be penalized for using the old vocabulary.STEM Fair instruction for Grade 5 ONLY is no longer tied to a STEM Unit. The content from the Pendulums unit has been incorporated into the unit formerly known as Physics is Phun, and the grade 5 science curriculum has been decreased by one unit. It is intended that teachers use the time previously used to teach Pendulums to teach STEM Fair skills and processes, either as part of other STEM units, or during a unit block of time, and allow students to complete their projects (individually or in groups) in class.
We added STEM Fair lessons to current units (may be too late to be used this year, or may pick up). Timeline begins at beginning of school year but is flexible.
Budget cutsSome asked to provide incentives to teachers who come to PD to support their students. Not sure what incentives you want (t-shirts and cheesy gifts? LOL) The PD will be offered at this point to one teacher per school, and will be all day to cover both documents. We will also come to your school to work with your teachers, or do a PD session in a grade level or faculty meeting, if asked.
Issues that we can’t yet address:While aware that BCPS is moving toward digital instruction, at this time all students do not have access to laptops to be used at STEM Fair, nor do we have the capability to safely offer power to those students. This may change in future years, but will not happen this year.Research report – some say it is too challenging, others wanted more weight. As an office, we can require a research report. That becomes a school/teacher decision. However, keep in mind that research and research reports are an important part of the CCCS ELA, and this provides an opportunity for teachers to teach those skills within the context of another project. Saves time by having students do research just for ELA. It becomes even more relevant if the class is doing issue/investigationRequire School participation or dictate how they run their fair: different schools choose the level of participation as to whether students are required to do the project, whether to send a Safe Racer Team, GT only, etc. The GT requirement has been taken out of the GT program. Participation in STEM Fair does address the PTD 21 Essential Learning Skills and Processes. This is good for all students, not just identified GT.
Teachers are encouraged to access this section, since some of the changes are referenced in the Teacher Background section.
Vocabulary changes include new with old in parenthesis. Vocabulary change reflects the move toward Interactive Science Notebooks, but also makes more sense. Hypothesis becomes claim (scientific claim), Results becomes evidence, Conclusion becomes reasoning. Those of you who have had the ISN training will recognize the question – claim – evidence – reasoning cycle used in the ISN’s.Overhead slides for Parent night are included, but hopefully will not be needed, since we are encouraging teachers to use class time for STEM Fair projects.There is an updated list of teacher resources, including books and websites. These were all tested for availability, and the websites are all live.
The teacher/STEM Fair Coordinator timeline begins in the fall of the school year, with setting dates for the school fair, as well as with beginning the year with a process for allowing students to generate “I Wonder” questions for a classroom list. This should be started as early as possible in the school year.The teacher timeline is set up two ways: one with STEM Fair learning beginning in the fall and continuing through the school year with the school STEM Fair as the culminating activity.; and, two, with the STEM Fair learning occurring as before in the timeframe as a STEM unit. The Office of Science is recommending that teachers plan STEM Fair learning through the school year, allowing students to work together during the school day. Benefits: fewer total projects to grade, easier to teach the skill and give student feedback to fewer projects, a more even playing field for all students, since student success would not hinge on the level of parental support, and opportunity to provide transdisciplinary, STEM centric learning> One idea for coordinating student projects is to develop a class issue/investigation. This can be student or teacher generated, and should include a local problem/issue that students have a vested interest to solve. It may include pollution/trash impact, resource conservation, grounds improvements, weather, etc. Student groups could choose to investigate variables within the topic, but research would all take a similar direction.
The plan is when we update grade 4 we will use the same lesson but test different variables, so that the students do not repeat the exact same lesson.Provides an way for the teacher to model the process so that students can see the steps and understand the process, without the pressure to hold students accountable for the skills. Further lessons teach and reinforce the skills.Aligned with math and reading CCCS. This includes changes in the math CCCS that removes mean, median, mode, and creating bar/line graphs from elementary instruction. That has been addressed, with the intent of keeping our expectations in line with what students are learning. Students will do 5 trials instead of three, choose the measure of central tendency from the data, and use internet websites or software to generate the graph needed to allow students to analyze data.
Addendum lessons are optional. These lessons are designed to allow teachers to teach the skills, a few at a time, in the context of an investigation, and with authentic content. First three STEM Units were chosen so that students would have the necessary skills by the end of the semester, to allow students to focus on projects during third quarter. This is reflected in the timeline.
The additional lessons, along with the kick-off lesson mentioned earlier may be used by teachers who prefer to teach STEM Fair as a specific unit, rather than through the year. This may serve as transition for teachers as they learn more about how to interweave the process through regular instruction. It was not intended for use by grade 4 teachers, but could be used by those schools who prefer a consistent approach within a building. There are no grade 4 drop-in lessons at this time.The additional lessons and drop in lessons address changes in math and RLA CCCS and are also aligned.
Grade 5 teachers who prefer not to pilot the changes this year may use the old Pendulums Swing unit. Keep in mind that that content has been migrated to a revised Physics unit and the Pendulum SDAB’s are not being printed and sent to schools. You may make your own copies of Pendulums if you prefer to teach STEM Fair that way.If you are willing to pilot the unit, please keep in mind that it is a pilot. The decision was made to only implement in Grade 5, so Too Hot to Handle is still being taught. However, grade 4 teachers may use the additional lessons if they choose. They are also encouraged to begin asap to develop a class list of questions, model determining if they are testable, and encouraging students to choose from that list OR a class issue/investigation.Feedback is crucial to the process. We now are set up to be able to make instant corrections to Intranet files, so if you see something that needs to be fixed, please let us know.The copy that is currently on the Intranet is a draft copy; it has just gone to the editor and I haven’t gotten that feedback yet. I’ll make those corrections directly on the Intranet.
Explain that student names from registration docs are used to create program, certificates, judge check off sheets. Misspelled names mean that names are incorrect in program, (which cannot be corrected after the program is sent to printing) and certificates must be redone after the fair.
Projects should be checked by classroom teacher against rules and regs to ensure that they will not be disqualified at a later date. Disqualification of projects makes students cry and parents angry. If you have even the slightest doubt that a project might be questionable, PLEASE contact me, either via phone or email. We are happy to be the heavy on this. Do not hesitate to refer a parent to us if they question the decision.On a second note, if you or the administration has refused a project idea, and the parent wants to argue, you may refer the parent to us. HOW EVER, please let us know before the parent calls that there is a problem, and what you have told the parent. We will, at all times, support whatever school decision has been made. But we have to know up front what was said to the parent so that we don’t contradict a school decision.
This should be part of the project screening process. Completing the summary and approval form also ensures that the document is ready to go when it is time to complete registration forms. We have had teachers tell us that they have to send in forms after deadline because they are waiting for winning student to return this. If these are completed for all students prior to beginning the projects, they are ready when you send in your paperwork.A school copy (including parent signatures) is included in the Yearly Updates section. This will be for your school records, and should not be sent to us. You should have these on file for your use, prior to beginning your class/school fair.
Unacceptable examples of Experimental Projects include any question that involvesany project that involves the giving or withholding of food, water, exercise, medication, or learning to any vertebrate animal (including humans) (safety concerns).
Danger of exposing students to pathogens, not set up to meet protocols by International Science Fair Organization. Also, unfair advantage by those students whose parents work in medical or research field. Besides MRSA, there are any number of harmful pathogens out there just waiting for some inexperienced student to swab and culture, such as e-coli, colds and flu, etc.
Against code of student conduct, and safety of students is paramount. Concern is that students who do not have adequate supervision will try to duplicate. Projects including any type of projectile should be screened, preferably with someone in our office.
On the rare occasion that a project idea has to be disallowed, please communicate directly with parents (in person or phone call; not email, note, or voice mail). One year we had a parent and student with a disallowed project show up at the fair. The parent swore that he had not been told that the project was not allowed. Not fair to student who observe the rules/regs. We have ways of dealing with the situation, but had to allow the student to participate. Basically, we judged the project, but did not enter the scores. The student received an honorable mention ribbon.It is important that we maintain the credibility of the process by redirecting these students, so that all are abiding by the rules. As we move toward more issue/investigation type projects, these problems will eliminate themselves.
We only have a two week turn around time from due date to fair. That includes completing program and getting it to printing, printing certificates, labels. Late entries will not have names in program, and may have to wait till after the fair for certificates.If for some reason that you, the STEM Fair coordinator cannot get the information to us, please designate someone in your building, and make sure they know what is expected.
We want students to get into the habit of looking around for problems to solve using science, and to become comfortable with experimentation to achieve different outcomes. This can be accomplished in several different ways:EngineeringProblem solvingInventionFor example, in a new grade 1 unit, students design and construct a windmill. Within that context, students may choose to modify a design by a. increasing or decreasing the size of the blades b. increasing or decreasing the number of blades c. changing the angle of the bladesAny of these changes will produce data that is different from that provided by the original design. This is real science, as opposed to students completing a cookbook investigation for which the outcome is already known.We strongly encourage teachers to begin the process as early as possible in the school year, by developing a question list that can be posted in the classroom. This list should be revisited regularly, and teachers should model the process of determining whether or not the question is testable. As mentioned before, this can be done weekly as part of a current (science) events discussion, and/or occur at the end of the STEM unit by asking students if they have additional questions about the subject of the STEM unit. Teachers may also choose to do a whole class issue/investigation, to drive the questions/problems that students investigation for their project, either group or individual.
We highly encourage all schools to differentiate the STEM Fair process so that all students may participate. This includes allowing some students to complete group projects, modifying the research report expectations, and any other differentiation that improves a student’s success in the project.In the past we have made it clear that while we encourage differentiation and the need for some students to complete group projects, we have not accepted group projects in the BCPS STEM Fair. This year we continue to accept group projects. The group projects worked out well at last year’s fair, and we will continue to accept group projects.
Make sure parents are available for the day. If student is unable to attend, you may send a second place winner to represent your school. This is best accomplished in a timely manner if you communicate directly, not via email, voicemail, or note.If you as the STEM Fair coordinator is unable to do this, please designate someone in your building, and make sure they know what is expected.Also, please make sure that the parents understand the expectation of the day.Parents need to be there while the student is there—this is not a drop-off event. A program is provided for the parents in the auditorium while student projects are judged. We provide a schedule of the day’s events so that you can provide it to the parents of your students.Students must participate in the morning judging event, in order to receive an award during the awards program in the afternoon. This is not an event where we provide awards for the student winning your fair.We are willing to work with students with special needs. We will judge special needs students early and/or individually (autism spectrum), allow students to bring signers (hearing impaired). We will no longer judge flagged students early, as we had a miscommunication last year that caused some problems. We feel it is important that students and parents make a choice as to which event to attend. If this means the student cannot attend, you may choose a second or third place student to attend instead. We need to know of these students as soon as possible. Usually, time is of the essence, since we are all getting close to the event. It may mean that you will need to communicate with parents earlier rather than later, so that you have a confirmed student by the deadline.
We have problems with teachers bringing in boards for the student, and the student does not show. One, it is difficult the day of the fair to get the t-shirts, etc. to students who show up without a board. Second, a misconception developed last year where the parent assumed that the only needed to arrive in time to receive an award at the awards program. Last year we had two students who arrived with their parents in the afternoon, thinking that was when they were supposed to come. Finally, last year we had a student whose teacher brought the board, and the student did not show up until the awards program in the afternoon. The student was not in our database, because he wasn’t judged. The student was in tears because his name wasn’t called for an award, and Tiger mom was at the stage demanding that he be allowed to walk. It was a major disruption to the program, I had to interrupt the process to announce him alone, and we looked like morons for leaving him off the list. This was partly a communication problem between the teacher and parent, but it was compounded by the fact that the board was carried by the teacher/volunteer.
We highly discourage you from using the STEM Fair Scoring sheet to grade a student project. We encourage you to use the Grading Sheet found in the Updates section instead. We also highly discourage you from showing parent the score sheets after your school fair. Make up something about having a school policy not to show them, or that the score sheets cannot be shown with out express permission of the judge, etc. When parents see score sheets, they want to know why their child got this score. Refer them instead to the grade sheet used by their teacher, which will hopefully take into account the needs of the student, and will be graded accordingly.
If you have questions about allowed project ideas, or would like assistance planning, or need judges, please contact us.
Safe Racer Timeline
The Safe Racer unit should be taught at the beginning
of the third marking period.
• START DATE: No earlier than January 22, 2014
• SHORT CYCLE ASSESSMENT: Should be
administered as the engagement for Day 5.
• UNIT POST ASSESSMENT: Should be administered
at the completion of the unit.
Safe Racer Timeline
During the third marking period, the Office of Science
will hold a “Safe Racer Information Rally”. This
Professional Development session will be for new
teachers and teachers new to third grade. During
the session, participants will take a closer look at
the curriculum and gain a greater understanding of
the design process through their hands on
involvement in the unit.
**JANUARY 23, 2014**
Safe Racer is not………
• an optional unit
• for GT students only.
Safe Racer Teams…….
•Must meet the registration deadline of April
25, 2013 to participate in the STEM Fair
At the end of the Safe Racer Unit, there is a
school-based competition to determine the
school’s “safest” racer using results from a
crash test and a distance test. Once the
winning team has been determined, they are
eligible to participate in the BCPS STEM Fair
in May. If the school decides to send their
winning team to the STEM Fair, they must
register their team by completing and
electronically submitting the design brief no
later than April 25, 2014.
Safe Racer Dates
Design Brief Deadline: April 25, 2014
Submit (as an e-mail attachment) to: Gary Werner,
Competition Dates: (tentative)
May 9, 2014--- Northeast :
May 10, 2014---Southeast:
Is only completed by the team representing
your school at the STEM Fair
Must be submitted electronically to
firstname.lastname@example.org by April 25, 2014. If your
design brief is late, it may not be scored. Your
team may still participate in the exhibition.
Represents 25 points toward your team’s overall
Is scored prior to the exhibition date.
As part of the competition, students will meet with
adult interviewers to discuss the process they
went through to create their cars for the
competition. Historically, students have had
difficulty with this part. Encourage your teachers
to prepare ALL students to participate in the
interview. Having someone from “outside” is
always helpful too!
All student team members
will receive a certificate and
a ribbon for their
participation. All students
are encouraged to attend.
situations cause students to
miss the exhibition.
The scores from the
winners from each
geographic area will be
compared to find the
overall Grand Prize winner.
This will be announced at
the STEM Fair Awards
Ceremony and the trophy
will be presented to the
Make sure that SOMEONE brings the car at the time of
the competition. In the history of STEM Fair, we have
had SEVERAL situations where the person with the car
either didn’t show up or showed up AFTER the team
had competed. It’s devastating for the team….and it REALLY
upsets the parents.
Any Safe Racer questions?
Feel free to contact us at any time!
STEM Fair 2014
May 9-10, 2014
Parkville High School
STEM Fair Registration
April 25, 2014
Resources may be
found on the BCPS
Intranet site at
You Spoke, We Listened
Eliminated STEM Fair Unit (Pendulums) in grade 5
to make class time so students work at school in
New timeline that works for all year, or for a
Standardized score sheet for all students (teachers
use the same score sheet at school that is used
at county fair)
You Spoke, We Listened
• We will no longer be giving t-shirts to adult
volunteers/judges, nor giving thank-you gifts
• We will be offering a PD session in the next
month or so to provide more comprehensive
training on the STEM Fair materials, as well on
the revised Physics unit
• Working on a shorter event, so that students
and parents don’t have to commit to the
You Spoke, We Listened
What we can’t do at this time:
• Allow Power Point projects
• Require a research report
• Require school participation or dictate how they
run their fair
• Hold the county level fair in a central location
(that doesn’t exist—we had been in the west for
several years, so we moved more central/east)
Yearly Updates Section
Contains the Fair date and location
Due date for STEM Fair and Safe Racer Registration
Teacher Background Information concerning Project
Approval, Project Guidelines, Rules and
Regulations, Teacher copy of the Summary and
Approval Form, Scoring and Grading Sheets,
Sample Interview Questions, Safe Racer Scoring
criteria, Sample Design Brief
Teacher Background Information
Contains comprehensive information about the
parts of a STEM Fair Project and the Scientific
Includes significant vocabulary changes for
Includes overhead slides if needed
Includes explanation between
observational and experimental projects
Updated teacher resources including books
There is an extensive timeline that is written to
STEM Fair Coordinators as well as to
– The timeline describes when to begin planning the
school fair, as well as when to begin teaching the
There is a student STEM Fair timeline that may
be used by the classroom teacher as a way to
provide pacing for students.
STEM Fair Lesson Plans
A common “Kick-off” lesson that
demonstrates to students what the
Scientific Method looks like (review for
Grade 5 students)
An introduction to the new vocabulary
Fun, hands-on test using paper airplanes
Aligned with Math and RLA CCCS
Addendum Lessons for STEM Units
Addendum lessons were written for the first three
Grade 5 Units: Weather the Weather, Geology
Rocks, and Wee Beasties.
Addendum Lessons include instruction for the skills
needed to complete the parts of the scientific
method, and include the new vocabulary.
Addendum lessons may include revised SDAB
pages, as well as additional ancillary materials,
but do not change the focus of the content.
Separate lessons are provided for teachers who
choose not to use the drop-in lessons, or who
have need of review/reteaching lessons.
These lessons each address a different part of
the scientific method
– They employ the new vocabulary, along with the
– They include full lesson plans, and appropriate
Implementation of these changes are
This is a pilot year for this document
Feedback is crucial
How we will do it at GES – 4th grade
• In 4th grade
– No change to instruction
– Continue to implement the “Too Hot to Handle”
– We will use the same packet of information
– Students will complete the projects as they always
have – at home, independently
– One change is they may complete a GROUP
project (no more than 4 students) if they wish
How we will do it at GES – 5th grade
• In 5th grade
– Major change to instruction
– “Pendulums Swing…” unit is gone
– Will not implement addendum lessons infused
– Will conduct “workshop” style lessons in school
How we will do it at GES – 5th grade
– Students may work in GROUPS (no more than 4) if
– Students will complete STEM Fair projects in a
• Students will generate idea for STEM Fair project
• Summary and Approval form will still need to be
completed by student, parent, and teacher
• Lesson on one piece of the scientific method will be
taught in school
• Student(s) will work on that piece of the scientific
method in school for their project (essentially creating
a draft for that piece)
How we will do it at GES – 5th grade
– After all lessons on the scientific method have
been completed, student(s) will finalize their
projects at home
on all on-line
paper copy of
Form for all
Before the student
begins the project.
Absolutely no experimental
projects involving vertebrate
• This includes humans as
well as any animal with
are allowed, as long as
the investigator has no
direct contact with the
Absolutely no cultures of
molds or bacteria, from any
with parents and students
ASAP when project ideas are
On-line form for
the STEM Fair
completed by the
close of business
on Friday, April
If a student can Google a project
question and get an answer or
“cookbook” procedure, then it
Provide differentiation to
students as needed.
Communicate with parents of selected
student directly to ensure they are
available to attend the BCPS STEM Fair.
Students are responsible for
bringing their project for set
up the day of the fair.
Projects will no longer be
accepted by teacher
0-10 point Score Sheet
• More flexibility
• The Score Sheet Should NEVER be used to
GRADE a project.
• Consistent for all students at all schools
Grading sheet included
• Provides fair percentage that can convert
to letter grade