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Students observe a project during sthe econd annual STEAM Expo held by Family Partnership Charter School in Santa Maria on Feb. 23, 2024. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. – Nearly 200 charter school students from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties took part in a STEAM Expo at the Abel Maldonado Youth Center on Friday morning.

The event was held for students who are enrolled in Family Partnership Charter School (FPCS), which operates five learning centers in the two Central Coast counties, including in Santa Maria, Orcutt, Solvang, Morro Bay and Los Osos.

Created in 2006, FPCS provides instruction for children in grades K-12 who are seeking the flexibility of alternative, personalized educational programs.

“Today, we’re having our second annual school wide event called the STEAM Expo,” said Stephanie Eggert, FPCS Executive Director. “Traditionally, our school had a science fair each year, but after COVID, we decided to change the format and make it STEAM for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics to give students more choice for their projects and showcase extra learning that they wanted to do for an area of their interest.”

For 90 minutes, the students were able to showcase their projects inside the Maldonado Youth Center gymnasium, displaying their work to other students, parents, teachers or anyone else in attendance.

“Each student were were given the opportunity to make a choice between any kind of area they’d like to learn related to STEAM, which really broadens it out,” said Eggert. “Not just a science fair project or the scientific method. They could create things. We wanted them to tap into something of interest for them, and then they would do the research, the planning. We did a kick off at each of their classrooms, and then at the end, they are showcasing today what they learned and they have a reflection sheet that they put with their projects to describe that.”

Eggert pointed out the nature of the Expo is to allow for project-based learning and provide students an opportunity to focus on a subject matter they are especially interested in exploring and studying.

“Project based learning is more exciting as a more exciting process for students and giving them option and choice increases their interest level as well as their motivation to deep dive into a topic,” said Eggert. “We’re teaching them to do that through our STEAM Expo. You can feel the students sense of pride in the work that they’ve done and that each of them are unique to what they wanted to create, and that was that has been something that was greater than what we had at first anticipated by making the switch from science fair projects only to STEAM Expo. The kids are eager to show what they’ve done to the visitors here today.”

For more information about Family Partnership Charter School, click here.

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