Putty that removes crumbs from your keyboard. An automatic dog feeder. A remote control vehicle that cleans up small toys. These aren’t the latest must-have gadgets tech writers are raving about. They’re inventions dreamed up and brought to life by students for the 2019 CV Starr Young Innovators’ STEAM Expo.
“This event is more than just a science fair,” explained third-grade teacher Jackie Fego, who ran the event with fifth-grade teacher Steve Coshal. “It combines science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics and offers students a way to explore their interests and talents while solving a problem and sharing their work with their peers and the community.”
One hundred and seven students participated, completing 63 STEM projects that were on display in the Henry H. Wells gymnasium on the day of the Expo.
“Our hope was to get our students to change their thinking from traditional science fair projects, to becoming inventors and innovators that can make a difference in the world,” explained Coshal. “We asked them to find a problem in their home, classroom, school, community or world and come up with a possible solution. We stressed that not every solution would work, but what was important was coming up with and investigating possible solutions that they could present to their peers. “
During the Expo, students were bursting with enthusiasm as they discussed their problems and proposed solutions with anyone who visited their table.
Avery Dudones created Paw Wash, a portable cup with bristles that can be used to wash a dog’s muddy paws. Inspired by her experience of not wanting her dog to leave a trail of muddy pawprints when visiting her grandparents’ house, Dudones measured whether her invention worked by answering two questions: does it clean my dog’s paws? Does my dog allow me to use it? The idea for the bristles came in when Dudones was trying to ensure her dog’s paws got really clean.
“I felt like I need something more than water,” she explained. “I needed something to rub against the paw.”
Ryan Spidal also wanted to solve an every-day problem. He created Locker 45, an invention that tilts a locker’s hard-to-reach top shelf forward just enough so that, when the door opens, students can reach their books. While incredibly proud of his invention, Spidal was already thinking ahead to how he could improve it.
“Right now it’s just a little prototype,” he explained. “I don’t know how strong it would actually be if it was full-size.”
This type of perseverant, forward-thinking attitude was everywhere as students asked questions and considered different variables for their own projects as well as projects created by their peers.
“We were thrilled with the excitement the event generated and impressed with the presentation skills we witnessed as students shared their innovative ideas,“ Fego said.
The students were eager to see what their peers had created as well.
“I was really excited to see everyone’s inventions,” Dudones said.
Friends Hera Hernandez, Elizabeth Corradino and Kayleigh Gannon collaborated on Garbage Car, a car with a garbage bin on top for collecting litter. They echoed Dudones’ excitement.
“I think it’s really cool,” Hernandez said. “I’ve wanted to do a science fair since I was in kindergarten. My dream came true.”
“It gives us an opportunity to share our ideas with the people in the school,” Corradino added.
In addition to all of CV Starr’s inventions, Rebecca Greenfeld and Steve Gallo brought members of Brewster High School’s robotics team, the Cybearbots, to the Expo along with their award-winning robot. Younger students were able to see the robot in action and engage with their older peers who built it.
Next door in the CV Starr gymnasium, Danielle Michielini had an incredible art show set up, showcasing a bit of the “A” for Art in STEAM.
“What a wonderful experience for our students,” said Theresa Cherry, CV Starr’s principal. “They really showed their understanding of the SCP skills of problem solving, perseverance, adaptability, and collaboration.”