A Recap of the 2020 K-12 STEM Showcase and Outreach Competition

by Gisella Lamas-Samanamud

AIChE’s K-12 Committee hosted the first all-virtual K-12 STEM Showcase and Outreach Competition on November 15, 2020. The event was part AIChE’s first virtual Annual Meeting and Annual Student Conference experience.

The K-12 Committee, chaired by Lucas Landherr and Madeline Mueller, along with AIChE staff members and many AIChE volunteers, prepared for months to bring together over 20 demonstrations from AIChE students and professional. The day-long event was attended by K-12 students, parents, and educators, and provided a unique opportunity to inspire K-12 students to become the next generation of successful chemical engineers.

The event started with keynote speaker Al Sacco (a former AIChE director and Space Shuttle astronaut) and the 3M Visiting Wizards, real life STEM professionals. Prior to the K-12 STEM Showcase, the K-12 Committee conducted AIChE’s second (and first virtual) K-12 STEM Module Competition. Teams of undergraduate students and members from AIChE professional groups submitted original entries that demonstrated STEM principles to the K-12 audience.

Grade level teams

Twenty teams were selected as finalists from a pool of about 80 entries, which had been thoughtfully designed for one of four grade level audiences:

  • Kindergarten through 2nd grade
  • 3rd grade through 5th grade
  • 6th grade through 8th grade
  • 9th grade through 12th grade

Students had a chance to interact with all five demos developed just for their grade level. During the interactive modules, AIChE volunteers served as judges to evaluate the activities presented by the finalists.

Lunch & learn

After engaging in the demos, the students, parents, and educators participated in a lunch-and-learn event, where they talked with AIChE volunteers about pursuing careers in chemical engineering. The winners of the K-12 STEM Module Competition were also announced, and are listed below. Showcase attendees finished the day by viewing the undergraduate AIChE Chem-E-Car Competition, where they witnessed chemical engineering in action.

The Second Annual K-12 STEM Showcase was a huge success, as students and volunteers enjoyed a day full of science, learning, inspiration, and fun. The Third K-12 STEM Showcase will take place during the 2021 AIChE Student Conference, scheduled for November 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. Stay tuned for announcements about that event.

2021 K-12 STEM Module Competition

Undergraduate AIChE student chapters and AIChE member professionals can submit modules for the 2021 K-12 STEM Module Competition. Finalists will present their modules virtually during the Showcase. AIChE members interested in volunteering to help run the K-12 STEM Showcase and Module Competition can learn about available opportunities by contacting k12outreach.aiche@gmail.com.

The AIChE STEM Showcase is generously supported by the AIChE Foundation and 3M, and is made possible by AIChE members and volunteer leaders from our K-12 Committee, and the Executive Student Committee.

…and the WINNERS are:

Student Competition

1st Place: Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral AIChE Student Chapter (3rd – 5th grade): “Racing Boats: The Science of Surfactants”

2nd Place: Universidad de Ingenieria y Tecnología AIChE Student Chapter (6th – 8th grade): “Digestive System as a Chemical Plant”

Professional Competition

1st Place: University of Utah & Great Salt Lake Local Section (9th – 12th grade): “Air Quality Data Visualization”

2nd Place: AIChE Graduate Student Member Arisbeth Ibarra Nieblas (6th – 8th grade): “Exploring Bioproducts: Glue for Piñatas”

Best-in categories

K – 2: Iowa State University AIChE Student Chapter: “Putting a Stop to Viruses!”

3 – 5: Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral AIChE Student Chapter: “Racing Boats: The Science of Surfactants”

6 – 8: Universidad de Ingenieria y Tecnología AIChE Student Chapter: “Digestive System as a Chemical Plant”

9 – 12: University of Florida AIChE Student Chapter: “Saving Lives with Centrifugation”

Learn more

If you want to know more about the winners, don’t miss the spring 2021 edition of the K-12 Committee Newsletter. (Winners, you have been contacted by our newsletter team. If you would like to share your story, please reach out to us at k12outreach.aiche@gmail.com with the subject: “I want to be in the Winners edition.”) We would also like to receive your feedback about the event so we can improve further editions.