Students explore STEM program at Phil Swing science fair

Brawley elementary sixth graders Jordyn, Haley, Janelle, and Ally test their hot air balloon project during Phil Swing school’s STEM science fair Friday.

BRAWLEY — Curiosity can often be the element that drives many a scientist, and the students of Phil Swing Elementary School were no exception as they played, explored, and engineered during their first annual STEM Science Fair Friday.

In order to spur more interest in the STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math programs, the Brawley Elementary School District decided one of the best ways to inspire students was to host a STEM fair.

This year, 80 students from the fifth and sixth grades competed against each other in four categories that included physical science, life science, technology and applications, and earth and space. Fifth and sixth grade teachers Jenna West and Lisa Drye were the advisors for the Phil Swing students.

“I think this has helped them, at this level, to be confident and to know that they can be experts in something too,” said Drye.

Projects ranged from the classic soda volcanos to more elaborate technological creations such as a “Sea Bot” and “Art Bots.”  Students could work individually on their own projects or partner up with others in a joint effort. They practiced presenting their projects to judges as well as answering questions about their presentations.

“I like science, because you get to test different things out and experiment,” said Andre, a fifth grader who built an all-terrain vehicle with his friend. “It’s fun breaking down stuff.”


Bethany Tapia is helped by her friend and partner Mya Allen with their volcano.

One group did a hot air balloon project, the only one of its kind in the STEM fair.

“We thought was going to be fun, which it is,” said Ally, one of the four sixth graders who created the hot air balloon project.

Another group was inspired by the absorption of ink into white carnations and the color change they can cause in the plants.

“We thought it was really strange that there was actual color change,” said fifth grader Fransces Munoz, who along with her teammates had seen the experiment before. “We wanted to see if we could do it again.”

Both West and Drye said the project taught the students they can be confident in whatever answer and outcome they get, regardless of whether their projects were successes or failures.

“With science you can discover new creatures, maybe cure diseases, help the world, and protect more of the world,” said Noah Nielson, one of the fifth graders who designed the “Sea Bot” project.

One project was selected from each of the four categories and prizes given to each group.

The first district-wide STEM Fair will be held next week in the Barbara Worth Gym. The four winners from each school will compete against each other for the BESD grand prize.