Students walk around to view peers STEM projects. Students spent much of the event viewing projects as well as presenting their  own.
Students walk around to view peer’s STEM projects. Students spent much of the event viewing projects as well as presenting their own.
Photos by Rowan Bissett

Athens STEM students display their semester-long work at Athens STEMposium

The work of the Athens Drive STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) students came to fruition this year at the Athens STEMposium on April 1. Where students displayed their year-long projects to peers, families, and everyone else who came to the event. This year’s theme for every project was energy and sustainability, and Athens students did not miss the mark. 

“Our question was what can we do with nonferrous metals, and how can we turn them into something useful? They can be recycled an infinite amount of time, and we wanted to create something that would be very useful, so we created the ‘Better Brick’ which is a sustainable alternative to the brick,” said Libby O’Leary, sophomore. 

Each grade level was given specific tasks to specify their project; the freshman student groups were given countries to research their energy portfolio and propose a more sustainable model. Sophomores were to create a new product or business with new materials, Juniors researched sustainable architecture to build a model of a sustainable Athens building, correlating to the upcoming Athens renovations in 2026. Seniors were given large engineering challenges and tasked to find local solutions, demonstrated in a prototype they created. 

The project themes have been the same for the last several years. They are scoped to start on a global level and move toward the local level as students continue through high school,” said Lauren Doran, STEM Academy Coordinator. “The senior projects have always been centered on finding a local solution addressing the Grand Challenges of Engineering. They present using a slide deck and working prototype.” On top of each grade level of STEM students displaying their projects, classrooms at the STEMposium were filled with spectators for projects of a different kind; Project Invent. Project Invent is a course where students are tasked with problems that people in our community face. 

“Students interview a community member and invent something tangible and technology-based to help them. The whole semester is focused on one project, which gives students a completely different experience from their traditional classes,” said Doran. “They develop empathy, the ability to work in a team, comfort with risk-taking, and overall design thinking. Ms. Luna has taught the course for the last three years, and the products they have made have ranged in topics, but all been amazing.”

Preparation for the STEMposium began in February for most grades, except for seniors, who started in early April. During the fall semester, STEM students were all tasked with writing a research paper, and it was only during spring semester that their assigned projects were handed out. Students spent a lot of time preparing and creating their projects to display their work. This preparation teaches students valuable skills when it comes to STEM values and life values. 

“The STEM Projects allow students to practice collaboration and design thinking while addressing our Academy themes of Energy and Sustainability. Students are challenged to think outside the box about real-world problems. Additionally, they get to practice creating and presenting a scientific poster. These are all important skills in the STEM field,” said Doran. 

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