Michigan Technological University hosts 21st Annual Western Upper Peninsula Science Fair and STEM Festival

Published: Mar. 19, 2019 at 7:34 PM EDT
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Elementary and middle school students from across the Western Upper Peninsula competed Tuesday night at the 21st Annual Western Upper Peninsula Science Fair and STEM Festival.

More than 130 students in grades 4th through 8th competed at Michigan Technological University. The students can work by themselves or in groups and can choose whatever topic they want.

"The students all get judged the same, even though there's fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades,” said Emily Gochis, Western Upper Peninsula STEM director. “Judging is the same criteria so that that way they can learn as they're getting older and improving their projects."

They form the hypothesis themselves, conduct the research, write a report, and then present it at the science fair.

"Well part of the Michigan science standards are actually a lot of these particular skills and doing a science fair project really allows students to cross that entire boundary," said Gochis.

Sixth graders Mercedes Garippy and Aili Heflin competed for the second time. They say their experience last year has helped them not only at this year's fair, but in the classroom.

"I think it's really helped us when we have to present things to our classes and also us knowing how to conduct research on our own," said Garippy.

This year, the pair studied the effects of watering plants with water, soda, and milk.

"My mom was like, what if you water them with pop or milk, and I was like, that's a good idea," said Heflin.

Included in the science fair is the STEM festival, which features student organizations from Michigan Tech presenting their own hands on experiments for families to try out.

"What we want the students to see is how much fun science, technology, engineering, and math are,” said MTU Center for Science and Environmental Outreach director Joan Cadde. “They're also interacting with some great role models."

Projects from the fair that earn enough points will receive gold, silver, or bronze ribbons. All ribbon winners will be able to present their project at the Carnegie Museum in Houghton this April.