Sonoma County Office of Education

More than 320 students participate in first Synopsys-Sonoma County STEAM showcase

03/10/2017 - Student holds gadget at STEAM Showcase

From a demonstration of pollination that involved Legos and plastic parachutes to a dance interpretation of a chemical reaction, the first-ever Synopsys-Sonoma County STEAM Showcase demonstrated the innovative, engaged learning happening across the county.

The first of its kind to be held in Sonoma County, the Synopsys-Sonoma County STEAM Showcase was hosted by the Sonoma County Office of Education on Friday, March 3rd at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts. It provided about 320 student participants a contemporary, relevant alternative to previously held science events, such as the science fair and science olympiad.

Students from Transitional Kindergarten through 12th grade—including some from special education classes—showed up to share their work in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, also called STEAM. All work was centered around the theme of Cause and Effect.

“The STEAM Showcase is meant to reflect what’s happening in the real world, where you see collaboration between people and across disciplines,” Anna Van Dordrecht, Science Coordinator for SCOE, said of the event.

Indeed, the action-packed showcase was a marked departure from more traditional science events. Students took turns showing their work, exploring the work of other students, and participating in hands-on STEAM activities.

While project evaluators and volunteers alike were impressed by the high level work students shared, the day itself wasn’t focused on comparing projects and selecting the best. “It was a more relaxed atmosphere than traditional competitions,” Van Dordrecht said. “The focus was really on celebrating what people did rather than competing.”

Students participated either as individuals or in groups, creating projects that fit into one of four categories: performance, a digital display, a 3-D display, or an interactive display. Their work was reviewed by a team from the approximately 35 project evaluators who represented local businesses and nonprofits in the STEAM fields, including Medtronic, Keysight, and United Way. There were no winners or trophies—rather, anyone who scored in the distinguished category on the project rubric received a badge celebrating their achievement.

Other project highlights included: a girl who learned to weld in order to create a display on the environmental hazards faced by sea turtles, a team of students who designed a line of body care products for children fighting leukemia, and a group of students who redesigned tire chains for driving in snow to make them easier to install while still performing well in tests.

The project evaluators were impressed by the students’ achievements, Van Dordrecht said. “One project evaluator said the projects she saw gave her whole a new perspective on what students could do, and a greater sense of hope for the future of the world,” she shared.

Participating Schools

Cali Calmecac Language Academy
Calistoga Jr./Sr. High School
Casa Grande High School
El Molino High School
Evergreen Elementary School
James Monroe Elementary School
John B. Riebli Elementary School
Kenwood Elementary School
La Tercera Elementary School
Maria Carrillo High School
Monte Rio Elementary School
Orchard View School
Parkside School
Piner High School
Rincon Valley Charter School-Sequoia
Rincon Valley Middle School
Roseland University Prep
Santa Rosa High School
The Presentation School
Thomas Page Academy
Twin Hills Middle School
Windsor Middle School