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Solutions to Real World Problems Are Found in SCUSD’s Virtual STEAM Expo

On May 6-8, the Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) hosted a Virtual STEAM Expo. The virtual environment allowed participants — parents, students, and teachers — to connect with one another online.

“There is an interactive feature so they can chat and network with others,” said Jennifer Janzen, the school district’s STEAM/PBL/EdTech Coordinator. “If they are viewing something in a sponsor booth or a student project, they can leave a positive comment. We have a social wall where people can leave positive comments or pictures on other people’s projects.”

In the Student Projects section, a number of students presented clever projects that solve real world problems. Projects students presented demonstrated an understanding of certain concepts in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math).

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Anjan Chikkamath, 10, a student at Briarwood Elementary School, created a tutorial called “Security Alarm with Call Activation.” The tutorial walked through the steps on how to create a security alarm with an old phone, such as a Nokia or Blackberry phone.

“One thing that motivated me to work on this project is that I’m fond of security alarms,” Chikkamath said. “I found that some security alarms cannot notify the person who is away from their home if someone is breaking into their home. So, I thought of making the security alarm with call activation so people can get notified if someone is breaking into their home. But the person who is breaking into the home is unaware about the call activation from this alarm.”

With warm summer days coming up, Hiranya Parekh, 14; Jacob Liu, 14; and Noah Flynn, 13, students at Cabrillo Middle School, came up with an idea to make the process of serving ice-cream more simple. They invented the “EZ Scoop,” a tool that heats and softens frozen ice-cream for easier ice-cream scooping.

“When we were building the ice-cream scoop, we wanted the scoop to be functional and compact,” Flynn said. “At first, we started off trying to get the batteries inside the handles of the scoop as you would a TV remote. We wanted to make it easy to replace the batteries just by opening up the handle. We had batteries attached to a heating pad which would be activated when the scoop is turned on. So, our scoop helped to melt a little bit of the ice-cream.”

Nilda Beronilla, 15; Nina Llamas, 15; and Aasees Sandhu, 15, students at Santa Clara High School, designed an ergonomic work desk using a software program called Fusion 360.

“My head and neck gets sore after a while from sitting at a desk,” Sandhu said. “So, we wanted the desk’s height to be adjustable so we can make sure that the monitor is at the perfect eye level for every person. We wanted to make sure people’s feet could be flat on the floor when they use this desk. So, we also made the desk’s height adjustable to accommodate people’s different heights. Another detail is to make sure that the desk allows your elbows to be at 90 degrees with your keyboard to prevent aching shoulders and wrists from a misplaced keyboard.”

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