TULARE COUNTY – Hands-on robotics coding, a green screen for video projects, an electronic game station, and a Cardboard Challenge area for families are all part of the countywide STEM Expo this Saturday in Visalia.
The community is invited to celebrate everything about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at the annual STEM Expo – one of the largest family science festivals in the Central Valley. The Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) will host the event, which will feature live STEM demonstrations and activities throughout the day, Saturday, March 10 at the TCOE Planetarium & Science Center, 11535 Avenue 264 in Visalia. This free event is held in an “open house” format.
“The STEM Expo is designed to engage students and families in learning about many of the educational and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said TCOE’s Jared Marr, a STEM staff development/curriculum specialist.
The STEM Expo provides students with fun, engaging activities to build knowledge about STEM, including a makerspace, where participants can build smartphone speakers, paper rockets and circuits out of ordinary materials. This year, several art-based activities have also been added.
Throughout the day, the TCOE Planetarium will show back-to-back presentations of its popular program, “Two Small Pieces of Glass: The Amazing Telescope,” utilizing its recently upgraded projection system. The program traces the history of the telescope and the advances that have been made since the time of Newton and Galileo. The STEM Expo will also feature a variety of community booths and local food trucks.
Students will bring their science projects to compete for top prizes and the chance to advance to the California State Science Fair in Los Angeles, April 23-24. Over 60 science projects have been registered in six competition categories: Life Science; Earth and Space Science; Physical Science – Chemistry; Physical Science – Physics; Engineering and Mathematics; and Behavioral and Social Sciences. The Science Fair is open to the public beginning at 12:30 p.m.
The highlight of the STEM Expo will be a presentation by Dr. Jose Rafael Prado of Monsanto Company. Dr. Prado leads an international team of 15 highly-skilled researchers in the United States and Brazil in the development of diverse varieties of vegetables and row crops with beneficial traits, such as disease resistance, improved nutritional profile, and higher productivity through a combination of robotics and automation, as well as molecular breeding tools. Dr. Prado holds a Ph.D. in Developmental Biology from Stanford University School of Medicine. He has also been a guest lecturer for the Introduction to Genetic Engineering course at Stanford.