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Middle schoolers show off science skills

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Students at Untalan Middle School took out their scientist hats today at the 2nd annual STEM Expo. Science, technology, engineering and math have the potential to transform and enhance traditional forms of teaching.

Vincent Aguon said, "I am the STEM representative for Untalan Middle School, which was a pilot school for the STEM Initiative with the Government of Guam Department of Education." Lines of student projects spanning an entire wing of the school showcased concepts students learned throughout the year. "We have one example where they got plastic bottles and kind of reused them and they actually built rafts, and so they have this little kiddie pool outside in front of the school exhibiting that they can actually stand on it, like a paddle board," he added.

This allowed students to apply concepts of density, buoyancy, and more. "Another one is our robotics students will display the robotics that they not only built but programmed to do certain jobs," said Aguon.

GATE technology teacher Juvy Carino said robots can make sounds, move objects, and even complete obstacle courses. She says the possibilities are limited only by student imagination. Students built both roller coasters and bridges, forcing them to use math skills such as calculating slopes, angles, and weight to ensure the structures remained sound. Other projects tested magnetic fields, characteristics of water, light waves, energy, and so more.

STEM Expo coordinator Arlene Castro said the expo gets students excited about their work, and helps them understand the practical applications of what they've learned. She said, "I think one of the challenges that is current in any classroom is the reluctance of students to actually do the work because they don't see the relevance.

"So when we expose them to these different alternatives of learning where they can actually practice and work together on a specific project, then they're able to see actually how it benefits them."

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