On Wednesday, Nov. 9, Santa Clara Unified School District families attending the STEAM Expo Family Night at Don Callejon School practiced reverse engineering, a concept that encourages one to learn about how something functions by disassembling it, studying its pieces and examining how the pieces come together. Families got to take apart a pen and investigate a number of points, including how a pen writes and what happens when a part is left out when the pen is reassembled.
“A lot of science has been moving toward the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) model integration and we want to model the same format for what was formerly known as the science fair which is now called the STEAM Expo; the STEAM Expo will take place on May 10, 2017,” says Angela Data, Santa Clara Unified School District elementary science teacher on special assignment. “We’re trying to give information to families about the two new categories we added: engineering design and Rube Goldberg machines.”
During a slide show, engineering design was defined as choosing a problem and designing a solution that will help solve that problem. For example, an engineering design project could be a device that could extract trash from the oceans.
Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist known for sketching quirky inventions, such as a self-operating napkin and the vintage version of what functions as a selfie stick today. According to Data, a student making a Rube Goldberg machine for the STEAM Expo will have to consider the end purpose of the machine. For example, the machine may feed a pet or erase a white board. Once the end purpose is established, students should think backwards to design the machine. Students can recycle materials to build their Rube Goldberg machines instead of buying new things.
Data emphasizes that engineering design and Rube Goldberg machines are not the only categories in the STEAM Expo and that students can work on projects under three other categories from previous years of the science fair.
“We will still have projects under the other three categories, which are life science, physical science and earth science,” Data says.
Beth Sevilla, a parent at Bracher Elementary School, came to the STEAM Expo Family Night with her husband and two daughters. Her daughter Erin, 6, enjoyed taking a pen apart for the reverse engineering activity and declared that she will take apart her Legos and an egg back at home.
“Erin is too young to participate in the STEAM Expo this year but the more exposure she gets to science and engineering, the more it will spark her interest in this later on,” Sevilla says.
Visit https://sites.google.com/site/scusdsciencecommunityresources/artifact for more details about Santa Clara Unified School District’s STEAM Expo taking place in the spring.