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The goal of the fair is for our children to learn how to do science. Therefore, the emphasis is on conversations. It gives each student scientist many opportunities to talk with others (peers and adults) about what they did, why they did it, what they found out, and what new ideas and questions they have. This emphasis on talk is critical for learning. Our 2024 STEM Fair model is intended to encourage our student scientists to share their findings, spark new ideas, and make connections — ideals that are important for doing STEM.

Additionally, this year we are continuing the "Outstanding Science Poster" awards as a way to motivate and recognize students' efforts. All posters will be evaluated by adult judges with STEM experience, and winners will be announced the following week during the morning assembly. Note that this year, judging will be optional. However, in order to win the “Outstanding Science Poster,” the students’ poster will need to be judged.

Participation by students in this event is highly encouraged, but not required. Student grades are in no way impacted by participation. The event is completely voluntary and sponsored by the CIS PTA.

Before the fair

  • Poster boards are available for pick up in the front office in early March. Each project gets 1 poster only. Posters are given out at a first-come, first-served basis until supplies run out. We will attempt to order more posters if they run out, but please note that there might be a long lag time due to delivery. Hence, we encourage you to register and pick up posters early on.

  • Students can participate individually or in teams. A maximum of 3 students allowed per team. Please come up with a team name!

On the day of the fair

5:00 PM   

Check in and set up in the auditorium. Please enjoy light snacks served in the cafeteria. No food is allowed in the auditorium. 

5:50 PM

Opening remark in the auditorium.

6:00 PM

Conversations begin. Students will be split into A, B, and C groups.

  • 6:00 PM - 6:20 PM: Group A poster presentation time

  • 6:25 PM - 6:45 PM: Group B poster presentation time

  • 6:50 PM - 7:10 PM: Group C poster presentation time

While one group is presenting, the other 2 groups will explore the presentations accompanied by an adult and discuss with the presenters about their projects. A STEM Conversation Sheet will be provided to each student with instructions and a prompt for discussion. Students can show their completed sheets for a chance to enter their names into the raffle. The more sheets they complete, the more chances to win!​

Judges will also come by and evaluate the posters during these time slots. To see the evaluation criteria, please visit the Awards section. 

Certificates of Participation will also be distributed during this period.

7:20 PM

Raffle, closing remark, and clean up. Winners of the Outstanding Science Poster awards will be announced in the following week during the morning assembly.

Why is the STEM fair putting an emphasis on conversations?

Being able to communicate their thinking and work are practices of science and engineering (NGSS) and math (Common Core). Instructionally, Science and Engineering Practice 8 and Math Practice 3 are the focus.


It is good for the students to make their own project and be able to talk about it with others. This change is based on significant research across multiple disciplines (education, neuroscience, psychology, cognitive neuroscience etc) that talking is important for learning. 


  • Talking offers learners the opportunity to articulate the speaker's unformed ideas and reflect on their thinking. It requires them to make new neural connections as they string together ideas to form explanations that they then verbalize for others to consider, get feedback, and revise their thinking. Those connections might not make sense or be accurate the first few times we say them out loud, but in speaking them out loud, we can refine them more effectively.

  • The social aspect of conversations triggers reward responses in our brains that makes the experience memorable and enjoyable. Imagine the future benefit for our children if we can cultivate the association of positive feelings to doing and talking science.


The focus on family conversations gives the student scientists many opportunities to talk with others (peers and adults) about what they did, why they did it, what they found out, and what new ideas and questions they have. Students might have seen their friends’ parents, but they may not have had conversations about their thinking with them. Plus, they likely won’t know everyone so there will be plenty of strangers in the room.

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