Delran Township Public Schools holds annual STEM fair
The Delran High School library looked like a scene out of Back to the Future.
During the school’s demonstrations of the Tesla Coil electric vehicle on May 15, familiar music from Star Wars and Ghostbusters emanated from an electrical resonant transformer circuit that looked like lightning. Guests had to wear earplugs because of the enormous sound.
The demonstration was part of the high school’s annual Delran STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Fair. Since 2018 – except during COVID interruptions – the event has grown in interest and participation. This year’s version has been one of the most successful to date, according to Erica DeMichele, K-12 supervisor of Science, Technology, Engineering, Sustainability for Delran schools.
“With over 600 guests, the vibe was one of pure excitement and fun,” she said, noting visits from Burlington County Commissioner Dan O’Connell and Delran Mayor Gary Catrambone. “As we continue to grow our connections with our community partners, it’s like we have a competition for who will have the coolest STEM learning experience.
“The police had a drone flying and their solar panel display flashing while the fire department had their thermal technology to share,” DeMichele added. “Inside, our oldest students from middle and high school, the STEMbassadors, were eagerly teaching the youngest elementary students to create through digital fabrication.”
The fair’s electric vehicle showcase consisted of 10 vehicles, including high-end cars like the Lucid. Parents and students had their own version of a sustainable car show. Vendors included a nearly 50-feet-long trailer from Universal Technical Institute to showcase STEM-related applications, especially engineering.
DeMichele has overseen and been part of the STEM fair since its inception. She has seen first hand its growth and the reactions of students, teachers, parents and visitors. There were 32 vendors at the 2018 fair, an increase of nearly 50%.
With multiple fair vendors that range from Delran chicken demonstrators to the township fire department, there was a lot to take in within a short period of time.
“(The vendors) understand better what people are looking for,” DeMichele explained. “This is STEM happening in real-world experience. How it benefits the people, planet and our prosperity is so important …
“I think that this community in Delran – there’s something special about it.”
The fair is just one of the opportunities and programs that Delran schools offer students to demonstrate STEM applications outside of class.
“I think it speaks a lot to the size of the community, the diversity of the community, the willingness of the community to participate, their desire for more,” she remarked.
“Those connections that we’ve built – all of that has created the buzz.”
Food vendors – including Capixabas and Kona Water Ice – donated some profits from the fair to Delran STEM programs.
Kathy Chang contributed to this report. She can be reached at email@example.com.