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Corbett Prep STEM Fair Inspires Inquiry
Among Participants, Guests

All fifth graders are expected to submit an individual project to the Corbett Prep STEM Fair.

STEM fair

The Corbett Prep STEM Fair gives students a chance to investigate questions or topics that intrigue them.

Jan. 8, 2015 (TAMPA, Fla.) – The science fair experience takes students at Corbett Preparatory School of IDS on a journey of discovery.

The long-term experimental projects begin shortly after the first day of school with students asking questions about interests or hobbies. From there, the students take careful steps to form hypotheses, accumulate data and draw conclusions. They share their work with judges and parents, as well as fellow Corbett Prep students who visit the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fair.

Nicholas Rodriguez enjoys building, so when the time came for the fifth grader to choose a STEM fair project for Corbett Prep, he picked an experiment that incorporated engineering.

He created a submarine from a water bottle, paper clip and rubber band. But the STEM fair process behind “Bottled-Up Buoyancy” took him beyond basic construction. It challenged him to ask questions about what makes a submarine sink or float and how and why air affects buoyancy. He even started thinking about bigger applications for his research.

“It’s useful for boats sailing on the ocean,” Nicholas said.

Fifth graders are each expected to submit an individual project to the Corbett Prep STEM Fair, and some younger students choose to pursue group or individual projects as well. Several projects move on from the Corbett Prep fair to the Hillsborough Regional STEM Fair in February. Judges evaluated projects on-site in December and identified which ones would go on to compete at the regional fair.

Dr. Gina Almerico, Director of Program Review for The University of Tampa’s Department of Education, and Dr. Mark Stewart, professor in the School of Geosciences at the University of South Florida, joined the Corbett Prep Middle School science team as judges.

“I’m always impressed with what the fifth graders do,” said Middle School science teacher Gery Morey.

Judges examined projects for scientific organization, thoroughness, skill, originality and clarity. The diversity of topics reflected Corbett Prep students’ varied interests and personalities.

Avery Zwirn rides horses and knew from her experience how bothersome flies can be while the horses graze. She tested the effectiveness of different types of fly repellant so she could understand what would work better on the horses. Jordan Greene enjoyed creating robots from Legos at CAMP IDS and selected a STEM fair project to learn more about how robots work. Jacob Norton helps his mother in the garden and wondered what he could do to help plants thrive.

Whatever topic they chose, the students talked excitedly about their research and discoveries. The spirit of inquiry the STEM fair sparks even reaches students who have yet to participate with experiments. All classes from the East Side of campus browse projects and take notes on their clipboards as they tour the fair — perhaps uncovering ideas that will develop into their own STEM fair projects in years to come.

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Founded in 1968, Corbett Preparatory School of IDS (formerly Independent Day School - Corbett Campus) is a fully accredited, nonsectarian private school located in Tampa’s Carrollwood neighborhood. The school serves over 500 students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and offers the International Baccalaureate program of study for all students. Teachers are endorsed in gifted education through a master’s level grant with the University of South Florida College of Education. Corbett Prep balances a dynamic, nurturing and safe learning environment with high standards and high expectations to develop a positive approach to life and learning. Corbett Prep has become recognized as an exemplary school with over 7,000 visitors observing and learning from Corbett Prep teachers. For more information, visit or contact the Admissions Office at (813) 961-3087.