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Holladay Journal

STEM fair postponement disappointing for Spring Lane Elementary finalists

Apr 13, 2020 01:50PM ● By Heather Lawrence

Students at Spring Lane Elementary will hope to participate in the rescheduled STEM fair competition on May 18-20. (Photo courtesy Afton Lambson)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

Spring Lane Elementary School participated in a STEM fair on Jan. 7 and 8. Winners from the school-wide event went on to compete in the University of Utah Science and Engineering Fair. The final competition was planned for March 11, but the elementary and junior divisions were canceled due to fears about spreading coronavirus. This foreshadowed the dismissal of school and all school activities on March 13.

“We understand that this is a huge disappointment for students who have worked so hard, but at this point, we feel it is best for the safety of everyone involved,” the USEF team said in a statement sent out to participating students.

The competition is tentatively rescheduled for May 18–20.

Eleanor Sundwall is the PTA president at Spring Lane. “Two of our qualifying groups completed the registration for the regional fair at the University of Utah: Zach Smith, ‘Saltwater Flows into the Great Salt Lake’; and Phoenix Kasameyer, Sigur Stoke and Lincoln Wixom, ‘Circuits,’” Sundwall said.

“It stings that the fair was postponed and potentially canceled. At our school, 81 students in grades K-5 participated in 73 projects,” Sundwall said.

The projects varied widely. Sundwall’s fourth-grade daughter wanted to see if her cat was smart enough to come inside when the air quality was poor. “She compared cat time outside to air quality, and found her cat stays outside longer when the air is clean,” Sundwall said. Her first-grade daughter grew sugar crystals, a perennial science fair favorite.

Other student projects were about measuring a person’s balance with or without wearing ear buds, building a thermometer, constructing an air filtration system and building a floating train using magnets.

Spring Lane PTA asked career scientists and graduate students to judge the projects. “I was thrilled with our judges. It was fun to see them treat the students seriously and show genuine interest in their work,” Sundwall said.

“We’re very pleased with the results and hard work of our students. We’re placing a lot more emphasis on STEM education. Students are excited to do these kinds of projects because they’re very hands-on.

“Our PTA did an excellent job finding judges. They gave the process more authenticity, and kids go to go home and say, ‘I met a scientist.’ Our female students saw that there are female scientists out there, and that’s something they can work towards,” said Afton Lambson, principal at Spring Lane.  

Spring Lane’s PTA was also busy with a Lunar New Year celebration this year in conjunction with their dual immersion Chinese program, which thankfully happened before the school dismissal.

“We had approximately 500 people in attendance for our Lunar New Year celebration in January. Students and families participated in Chinese games, arts and crafts, including calligraphy and painting. All of our grade levels performed musical numbers, and we even had some kung fu mixed in with the performances,” said Lambson.

The PTA did daily activities and served Chinese food for a week in January. “I gathered some students to help me put on our 20-foot dragon costume, and we visited each class to share a little fun and good luck for the New Year,” said Lambson.

Hopefully the good luck holds during the school dismissal and beyond.  



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