Sonoma County Office of Education

Students explore “Light and Dark” at STEAM Showcase

03/08/2024 -

Hundreds of Sonoma County students presented innovative projects exploring science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics on Tuesday, March 5, during the Sonoma County Office of Education’s sixth STEAM Showcase.

Roughly 400 students from grades TK-12, spanning nine districts and 14 school sites, attended. The showcase is titled after an educational approach that builds students’ skills through the study of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math — or STEAM.

A Sonoma County student presents her project on image projectors to evaluators during the 2024 STEAM Showcase.

STEAM showcase 2024

This year’s theme, “Light and Dark,” gave students of every age the opportunity to delve into a variety of scientific concepts. It generated projects exploring topics ranging from shadows in art to solar and lunar eclipses, as well as the engineering of robots to support people afraid of the dark.

“It really allows everyone's individual brilliance to shine,” said Kelly Mackura, a science project coordinator at the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE). “Students have the opportunity to interpret and have their thinking go in any direction. There is no limit to their thinking and learning.”

Chris Brunamonte, a parent of a Proctor Terrace Elementary 5th-grader who attended the event, said his daughter and her classmates enjoyed putting together their project on the life of a marble, which drew parallels to the life of a person.

“I think it’s really good for them to put the project together and to have to present it to somebody,” Brunamonte said. “I think that’s just a really good life skill at this age.”

Benjamin Fulton, a 4th grade student at Santa Rosa French-American Charter School, said while he was nervous to present his project, the showcase as a whole was “pretty fun.” His project focused on light pollution’s negative impact on animals.

STEAM showcase 2024

Santa Rosa French-American Charter School student Benjamin Fulton stands in front of his project, which explored light pollution’s negative impact on animals.

“He has thought about (his project) more in depth,” said Tiffany Fulton, Benjamin’s mother. “Yesterday he talked about, ‘Let’s write a letter.’”

Kelley Dillon, the assistant superintendent of SCOE’s Equitable Education Services division and a project evaluator at the showcase, said she enjoyed watching students present their findings.

“It was so much fun to connect with the students as they shared their brilliance!” Dillon said. “The joy and pride seen in their faces as they shared and demonstrated their learning was truly wonderful.”

In addition to the project presentations, students engaged in interactive activities including the building and racing of small derby cars. The showcase was sponsored by Synopsys STEM Opportunity Fund, Bank of Marin, Hogan Land Services, Medtronic, Chandi Hospitality Group (Mountain Mike’s), American Council of Engineering Companies (North Coast chapter), Keysight Technologies, the CTE Foundation, and Brejle & Race Consulting Engineers.