CASA GRANDE — Merlin D’souza, 15, and Chloe Buchanan, 16, love science.
On March 2, they plan to share their enthusiasm for science with the community while bringing together students, businesses and learning institutions for a daylong science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics fair in Peart Park.
“The STEAM fair is a full-circle event,” Buchanan said. “We’ll have students with their science projects making presentations, and we’ll have businesses there that show what kinds of STEAM careers are available in Casa Grande. The colleges will be there to show the path students can take to getting the STEAM career they want.”
They are including arts along with the more common acronym “STEM.”
The event will include hands-on presentations for younger students to introduce them to various STEAM concepts.
“We’re reaching out to elementary schools and middle schools because we want students to attend,” D’souza said. “We want the whole community involved. We want students to realize the potential in STEAM jobs and start thinking about the path they need to take to get there.”
D’souza and Buchanan are students at Casa Grande Union High School, where they’re involved in science and robotics clubs and activities. D’souza, a freshman, hopes to become a bio-medical researcher. Buchanan, a sophomore, wants to be an engineer.
Both represent the school as elected members of Chief Science Officers, an organization that advocates for STEM programs in schools and communities and encourages students to have a voice in STEM outreach and curriculum planning.
“As Chief Science Officers, we want to bring STEAM events to people,” D’souza said. “Our hope is that this event will get students thinking of STEAM careers and get businesses thinking of ways to reach out to these students.”
The STEAM fair is an outreach effort the two are coordinating, on their own, as a Chief Science Officers project. Fellow student Rebecca Baker, 17, a senior, is also part of the planning for the event.
“It’s been a lot of late nights and weekends planning for this event,” D’souza said.
More than a dozen businesses have signed on to attend the event. They’ll have a table at the STEAM fair and offer information and guidance to students about career options.
About two dozen students are set to give science presentations and others will host activities or introduce younger students to various science clubs and opportunities in the schools.
Buchanan and D’souza are hoping that kids from throughout the area attend the fair to learn or to present a project. Students from other schools who would like to present a project may contact D’souza or Buchanan to secure a presentation time.
“For other students, we want this event to further their passion for STEAM,” D’souza said.
Buchanan said the benefits of student involvement in STEM projects and clubs goes beyond academic.
“I saw my older sister (Gabriella Buchanan) blossom as a science student at this school and in the robotics club,” she said. “She went from being shy and quiet to being a part of science competitions. She’s now studying to be an engineer. In this school we get these unique STEM opportunities to be a part of projects that we wouldn’t get anywhere else.”
D’souza appreciates the special perspective STEM projects can offer students and kids as they’re trying to find their way in the world.
“It’s like when a surgeon cuts open a patient and sees a person’s organs. That person’s organs have never been seen by the world before. The surgeon is the first to see them. STEM is like that for me. I get a chance to see things that I haven’t seen before,” she said.
The STEAM fair will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Peart Park on March 2.
The STEAM fair has been designated as an Arizona SciTech Festival signature event. Attendees may collect a stamp card at the event and those who visit at least 10 of the 70 Arizona SciTech Festival’s signature events throughout the year may win a prize.