Computer Science and Coding Projects Join School District’s 2018 STEAM Expo

Story and Photos by Cynthia Cheng

Polina Yurevich, 11, from Sutter Elementary School, dropped melons, with and without the protection of a bike helmet, to research whether bike helmets actually protect the head.

Yurevich’s project was exhibited with projects by other students from the Santa Clara Unified School District at Buchser Middle School for the May 2 STEAM Expo. (STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.) The co-chairs of the event were former district parent Jennifer Whitten, district parent Jennifer Hoppe and district employees Heather Wygant and Krista Woodward. Parent volunteers and volunteer judges also supported this event.

“We have a little over 220 projects from grades four to eight,” Whitten said. “This year, we’ve added Computer Science/Coding and Robotics as categories.”


A big robotics display from Central Park Elementary School featured machinery at work.

Showing a project in the Computer Science/Coding category, two students from Westwood Elementary School conjured up an app to guide you through life’s big choices, such as college, career, marriage and retirement.

“My partner, Lucy Nunn, and I are new to coding,” said Lucy Johnson, 11. “We learned how to do block coding to create this program. Our app works like a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure Book.’ First, the app will read down a code and broadcast a message. You will be asked a question about your interests, such as ‘Science or Writing?’ You respond and then you will be presented with career options.  One choice is followed by prompts to make another choice.”

Another student submitting a project in Computer Science/Coding was Buchser Middle School’s Nabiha Jawad, 12.

“I made a HTML website that allows kids to use the internet safely because not everything on the internet is appropriate for kids,” Jawad said. “This website takes kids to safe sites where they can play games and read books.”

Students also submitted projects in other categories besides Computer Science/Coding.

Millikin Elementary School student Shankavi Kulasingham investigated the effects of mouthwash on teeth in the Life Science category.

In the Earth Science category, Laurelwood Elementary School student Linda Chang studied how red cabbage juice affects acidic and alkaline liquids.  Washington Open students Amelie Wright and Gabriella Gonzalez’s Rube Goldberg machine, “Gumball Disaster,” moved into action with a fairy wand hitting some dominoes and concluded with a gumball falling into a bowl.

Haman Elementary School’s Cole Chan, 11, also used dominoes in his Rube Goldberg machine titled “Confusing Garden.” The plant watering machine demonstrated concepts related to energy and engineering. Chan’s machine came with a foam ball that hit some dominoes, which, through a series of actions, prompted a second ball to fall and hit a wedge and release a third ball.

“And then that little ball would go down another ramp and hit more dominoes and then the dominoes would go up another platform by an inch and it would hit a bigger domino, which is a piece of metal, a flint,” Chan said. “That flint would fall down and hit a tiny wedge and that tiny wedge would flip a little cup and cause that cup to flip over and pour water onto the plant.”