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STEM Expo attracts student scientists-in-training

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Creativity and experimentation took center stage during the first Placer County Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Expo Saturday. Held at William Jessup University in Rocklin, the event attracted hundreds of scientists- and engineers-in-training from local schools. The idea stemmed from a lack of creativity found in traditional science fairs, said Dr. Eric Bull, one of the event’s organizers. “The whole goal is to get kids involved in science,” he said. “How do we get kids in Placer County … to encourage them to see science in their everyday lives?” Seven categories let students submit a project that appealed to their strengths and abilities – Rube Goldberg, invention, science fiction, environmental innovation, reverse engineering, robotics engineering and scientific inquiry. Children, elementary through high school level, were encouraged to submit entries to be judged, but the expo allowed people to display projects without the pressure of judging. Exhibits were open for judging or simply for public view. Demonstrations were also done from people within the community and workshops were held to show how science is used professionally. Bull said many of the students came excited to share their projects and left the expo, grinning from ear to ear. With no entry deadline, Bull said some students also came bearing their projects. “It’s all about the kids,” he said. “When you enable them to get excited about it at the spur of the moment.” Bull said they plan to make this event an annual expo at William Jessup University. For more information, go to www.stemexpo.org. ~Lauren Gibbs