The California STEAM Symposium provides attendees with the opportunity to celebrate, learn, support and connect with those who are interested and invested in STEAM education. It boasts approximately three thousand attendees, and this year it took place at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Due to it’s easy accessibility to the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute, SLI administrators, faculty, and a handful of students were able to attend.

Each area of the conference was engaging and informative, but SLI is particularly proud for the four SLI student groups that displayed and demonstrated their projects in the Student Showcase area. Not only did they seize this opportunity to work on their presentation and communication skills, but they grew their understanding of their projects by answering and learning from attendees. Below are the descriptions of the four SLI projects that were showcased.

The iCane Traffic System (8th grade): The intelligent white cane (iCane) can electronically assist the visually impaired community in crossing intersections safely. This project has been in development for two years and the current prototype has accomplished the following: when the individual comes within two feet from a crossing, the traffic signal beeps; the iCane can control the traffic light using an infrared remote; and the iCane vibrates on the crosswalk within 3 centimeters of walkway guides.

Hydroloon (8th grade): This project aims to solve to the difficulty of clean water access for third world countries or areas in crisis. Hydroloon (inspired by Google’s “Project Loon,” which brings internet access to third world countries) is a weather balloon that flies into clouds using electric propulsion and weather systems and then collects cloud moisture using fog mesh. The balloon then carries this collected water to “Hydroloon Stations” where trucks can transport it to nearby destinations.

FTC 13219 – X-Cavators Robot (9th grade): This team exhibited its FIRST Tech Challenge competition-level robot and some of the behind-the-scenes programming and construction. They also shared an overview of this year’s FTC theme (FIRST Relic Recovery) and some of the strategies used and experiences gained as part of this year’s tournament season.

Oil Cleaner (7th grade): This team is working to create a device that treats oil spills. Prior to the symposium, they’d been deep in research about current techniques for separating oil from water and then working to create a prototype device that could use these techniques. At the event, they tested the product’s effectiveness at oil and water separation and ran plant tests on the different water conditions to observe the effect that water quality has on plant life.

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