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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Primary School’s STEAMFest Unveils the World of STEAM to Students

Third-grader Livia Benelli presenting her project on the Agoutis at this year’s STEAMFest. (Courtesy of @wisreddevils)

The WIS primary school conducted its annual STEAMFest for the fourth time on April 29, 2023. The STEAMFest is a science fair-like event where primary school students showcase a project they have researched or made that falls under one of the science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) categories.

This event is optional for students in first through fifth grade. It is an opportunity to extend what they already learn in class with the primary school’s STEAM and Learning Support Specialist Tamsin Bradbury, according to Associate Head of School Natasha Bhalla.

The student participants are expected to build the project at home by following the scientific method or design cycle and share their creations at the fair with the community. “STEAMFest is really about the kids taking agency and doing their own design and really coming up with their own projects,” Bhalla said.

From left to right: Second-graders Bassem Himmo, Baseem Said and Kutemwa Mulenga exploring Mulenga’s project related to picking up trash. (Courtesy of @wisreddevils)

This year’s STEAMFest featured several interesting projects.

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First-graders Devyna Dean and Maya Sood worked together on a project about how recycling will benefit the future of the planet.

Third-graders Livia Benelli and Maeva Delsol discussed the importance of Agoutis, which are rodents that help nut trees grow and are especially important since many trees are being cut down. They take the nuts from the Brazil nut tree, open them to find smaller nuts and then hide them for themselves, but those that are forgotten eventually grow into trees.

There was a lot of student interest this year, with 135 out of the 300 eligible students participating in the event and being heavily invested in the projects, according to Bradbury.

Throughout the whole process, the students develop and explore new concepts and skills, which opens up their enjoyment of STEAM.

“Even from last year to this year, we saw more students following the scientific method and really going about their projects in a more systematic way,” Bradbury said. “It really lets them develop a particular interest of theirs.”

Bhalla agrees that STEAMFest allows students to dive into their passions and areas of interest. “Every student will find one thing in [STEAMFest] that they will think, ‘Oh, I really enjoyed this,’” Bhalla said. “The beauty of it is that embedded in the project, everyone will find something that they can get out of it, and keep as they progress.”

Along with setting up the stations and presenting their projects to other students, parents and siblings, the young participants got to hear from a guest speaker.

“What a speaker does is it anchors the program,” Bhalla said. “[A speaker] brings everyone in and it ends it back together as a community.”

Jonathan Blutinger, who graduated from WIS in 2010, came to speak to the students about his journey in STEAM through WIS and discuss his current occupation as a mechanical engineer in the field of food robotics. Currently, he is helping to create a machine that can cook food by assembling different elements or ingredients.

WIS alumnus Jonathan Blutinger shares the goal behind the machine he is helping to develop that can cook for the STEAMFest participants. He explained the role of STEAM throughout the progression of the project. (Courtesy of @wisreddevils)

Blutinger believes that the school gave him a new perspective on engineering and design through different projects he conducted as a high school student. He also found that taking physics and math at higher level in the IB was beneficial, as his physics teacher helped him develop a passion for science.

Blutinger thinks that being exposed to the vast world of science and technology at such a young age is extremely impactful for the students and their understanding.

“It makes the biggest difference,” Blutinger said. “It sounds like WIS is [keeping up with the technology by] including STEAMFest and doing other things like integrating different types of manufacturing technologies into the curriculum and new classes.”

In addition, the event is meant to help build up students’ confidence as they begin to recognize their potential. “[It] gives the primary school students a vision of who they could be and become,” Bhalla said.

The event helps them envision their future in the field of STEAM. “Exposing young kids to as many possible avenues is the ultimate way to set them up in the future,” Blutinger said. “I think it definitely will help them to develop their knowledge base, show them what’s possible with this different technology.”

Ultimately, STEAMFest represents the school’s objectives for its students and their growth throughout their educational journey.

“STEAMFest is a snapshot of what it means to be a student at WIS,” Bhalla said. “It is a prism through which everything we do it with is represented. There’s teaching, there’s content, there’s exploration, student agency, the capacity to create and build and then ultimately to publish and share.”

By Selena Said

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About the Contributor
Selena Said
Selena Said, WIS News Editor
Hi, I’m Selena! I am currently a sophomore and this year, I am a WIS News Editor. This is now my second year being a part of Dateline and I was previously an Arts Editor. I like to cover news and fun stories that have a connection to the WIS community. Outside of Dateline, I like playing tennis and reading. 

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