|flickr: Brent Moore cc|
You've seen the exhibit halls. Mom's canned peaches. Grandma's quilt. Grandpa's model railroad. But, what about STEM projects? Absolutely!
County fairs offer a wonderful opportunity for students to submit their projects. Exhibit halls have categories for agriculture (STREAM Garden!), crafts, rockets, Legos, most creative use of duct tape (!), and trash to treasure recyclable art. Some exhibit categories allow for free choice from schools. Why not use the county fair as a way to showcase your students' projects?!
Depending on your county, winning entries can earn money too. Usually, it's a small amount, say $10 or so, but it's so rewarding for the kids to see their project on display. Many county fairs feed into larger state fairs, so student projects might end up going all the way. Either way, students have an open platform to share their learning and bring community awareness to their projects.
If you are a regular at your county fair, you know what types of exhibits they display. Work that into your STEM units. If you don't have time to submit entries for the fair this year, save the projects over summer and submit them next year.
Most county fairs host a website with admission and event information. They might even offer exhibit information as well. For instance, our county fair has all the information available here:
Information regarding the exhibit entries starts on page 24.
So, when your students start to talk about the Tilt-a-Whirl, you can ask them to build one out of straws. When they talk about the midway games, you can ask them about the probability of winning or recreating their own midway games. Let's use the county fair to showcase their STEM talent.