Standard 10


PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT: Students demonstrate their learning through performance-based assessments and have opportunities to develop self-assessment and self-monitoring skills. 

INITIATIVE NAME: Engineering Fair

The Michael C. Riley Engineering Fair is a performance assessment of students’ understanding and application of the Engineering Design Process. All fifth graders participate in the Engineering Fair, and the event serves as a culmination of their work in STEM disciplines and processes from kindergarten through fifth grade. Not only do the students apply the Engineering Design Process to independently solve a problem of their choosing, they document each step of the process and share it with peers, teachers, and a judging panel made up of scientists and engineers. 

Since its inception six years ago (when we changed from a traditional science fair to an engineering focus), we have always offered the students a “class project idea” option. Knowing that one problem can have a large variety of unique solutions, this problem suggestion was a scaffold for students who may not have another idea for a problem to solve. Examples have been containers to collect rainwater, sports equipment made from recycled materials, ways to clean oil spills from water, or other suggestions that aligned with the grade-level curriculum. As students have gained more expertise with the Engineering Design Process and STEM thinking in general, some have still relied on the offered “class problem,” but more and more have developed their own problems to solve, based on topics that interested them, or on challenges that they had attempted in previous years but wanted to continue to improve. 

 During the 2015-16 school year, nearly 100% of 5th graders chose to complete the class problem. This year’s fair included 78 projects completed by 105 students. Fewer than 40 of those students chose the “class problem” this year, which was a covered wagon aligning to social studies curriculum and drawn by a Sphero robot to control force. Many more students chose topics of their own choosing aligning to their interests, or that they had seen during their past five years of STEM integration. 

During the Engineering Fair Judging event, students had the opportunity to share the projects with a panel of 12 community members from science and education backgrounds. These judges serve to evaluate projects at schools around the region as members of the Sea Island Regional Science Fair. In addition to giving regular feedback about how our students are well-prepared, organized, and well-behaved during judging, the judges also offer constructive feedback each year about ways that our Engineering Fair process and projects can be enhanced. This feedback has led to changes in the project ideas that are offered to students, the way that criteria and constraints are outlined for students, and the overall format of judging from year to year.

Included below are artifacts such as the template which is used by students to navigate the Engineering Design Process, the rubric by which the projects are evaluated within the classrooms, a few examples of digital presentations from the past few years to demonstrate the progression of student mastery, and photos of students sharing their projects with judges on the day of the Engineering Fair. 

Engineering Fair

Click here to view the Engineering Fair Packet

Click here for a larger view of the Engineering Fair Project List below. 


Digital Presentation Progression
2017 Project Example 1
2017 Project Example 2
2018 Project Example 1
2018 Project Example 2
2019 Project Example 1
2019 Project Example 2

Click here to see the 2019 5th grade testing covered wagons for the 2019-20 Engineering Fair. 

Upon reflection, thorough data collection and connecting this initiative to performance assessments throughout the school and year are ways we can make the Engineering Fair a more authentic practice and a stronger culminating demonstration of learning.