How can we keep our waterways clean, find more sustainable
energy sources, or help those with disabilities have more independence?
The 50 students who participated in the JUSD Innovation Fair took on those challenges and more with creative science and engineering projects.
The district’s 39th fair (formerly known as the Science and Engineering Fair) took place in December and showcased students’ creativity, ingenuity, critical thinking, and teamwork skills. Top winners will compete at the Riverside County Science and Engineering Fair, scheduled for March 1-2.
The fair was renamed the Innovation Fair this year to capture the spirit of innovation and creativity at the heart of the event. This year’s fair doubled in size from last year and included middle and high school students. Organizers plan to continue to grow the fair in the future.
“The Innovation Fair is an event that highlights our Vision for the Future,” said Dr. Josh Lewis, Director of Secondary Education. “(Students) come to us in our schools with immense potential…and we want to make sure that they can demonstrate that through the Innovation Fair.”
While students are excited to win trophies and acknowledgment for their hard work, coordinators say the Innovation Fair provides students with much more important and lasting rewards.
“Events like this help students because it provides an experience for them to collaborate with their peers. It has very high expectations,” Dr. Lewis said. “It’s not cookie cutter. It’s not finding a single answer. There could be multiple answers. It really is an experience much like we do as adults.”
Students participating in the fair use both the scientific method and engineering design process to tackle an issue, improve on an existing technology, or answer a question they may have through research and experimentation. Failure often is part of the process.
“It’s okay for it to fail, as long as we research and continue on, that’s fine,” said Mario Sanson, who teaches engineering at Jurupa Valley High School and is co-coordinator for the Innovation Fair.
In addition to problem-solving, students also learn about communication, teamwork, and perseverance. Jurupa Middle School science teacher and Innovation Fair co-coordinator Jose Ramirez said the confidence students build through participating in the Innovation Fair is one of the most important skills they gain.
“The biggest outcome for them is to critically think about what they’re doing and to share that in an effective way,” Mr. Ramirez said.
After completing their projects, students present their research to judges who include JUSD staff and Board of Education members, community leaders, and even scientists from local universities. Poise and communication skills are key.
“They have an opportunity to express themselves to judges, to adults…to look at themselves to become future scientists, future engineers,” Mr. Ramirez said.
“I hope that they feel confident in what they do in the classroom, (and) outside the classroom. The biggest thing for them is to walk away from this experience thinking to themselves, I can do this, and I can do something in the future as well.”
You can view a list of the winning JUSD Innovation Fair projects at: