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RES students take part in STEM expo

Alabama 4-H, with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, hosted the 2020 Northwest STEM Expo March 12 at the Bishop Community Center in Russellville, and 22 students from Russellville Elementary joined 88 additional students in experimenting with hands-on science activities.

The STEM expo, which showcases various types of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, allowed students to experience hands-on activities while competing with themselves.

“All of the kids have participated, and I think all of our kids feel like they have accomplished something,” said RES robotics team sponsor Carol Fretwell. “It’s a lot of programming and mental math that is all STEAM involved. If you stand back and watch, there is a sense of accomplishment in what they are doing.”

The NW STEM Expo consisted of students from seven different counties. The stations were divided up, with each group spending 30 minutes at each station.

The 22 students in attendance from RES included seven third-graders, seven fourth-graders and eight fifth-graders.

This is the second competition of the year RES has competed in, but Fretwell said the STEM Expo is a different atmosphere than the previous competition the students participated in at the University of North Alabama.

“This is much more laid back, and the kids enjoy that,” Fretwell said. “They aren’t competing against all of these other schools, so there is not any pressure.”

The NW STEM Expo is different than other competitions because rather than competing against other schools, teams compete against themselves by choosing to participate in different challenges.

This year, four different Star Wars-themed robotics events challenged students. All challenges required students to program the robots so they were autonomous.

Students had the chance to experience drones, virtual reality, LEGO activities, biofuel blast, spheros and a junk drawer consisting of various items students used to turn into STEM activities.

“All of the activities they have been in, I think they have really liked and learned a lot from,” Fretwell said.