Ridgeview Elementary School in Raleigh County hosted its first ever Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fair Tuesday, allowing students to concoct their own projects in hopes of teaching others on the four subjects' content. 

The school's Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) teacher Megan Waddell correlated the event in hopes of seeing some of what she's taught to students during the school year come to life. 

Each project produced by students included some sort of content related to physics, chemistry, biology, health or behavioral and social issues. Waddell claimed some stand out projects included finding the best toothpaste for your teeth, determining the healthiest brand of water, which diaper brand is the most absorbent and whether or not chewing bubblegum can help you concentrate.

"The students picked really great topics this year, and we are so proud of them," Waddell said. 

The STEM fair, which Waddell claimed is similar to the normal county science fair, was brought in to include more engineering and computer science-related topics. 

To bring STEM-related content into all schools and every day activities is the ultimate goal, she said. 

Seeing her students' thoughts come to life was worthwhile, Waddell added. She said seeing the students and teachers putting so much work into their projects really made made their effort show. 

Judges included many education officials with a STEM-related background including Debbie Berry, a retired school teacher, Rodney Berry, who holds an engineering background, and Kelli Sarver, a nursing major at Bluefield State College. 

While the STEM fair was a fun activity, Waddell claimed it does so much for students without them even realizing it. 

While important for all students, she stressed the crucial need for it in elementary schools. 

"It teaches them to accept failure, and be open-minded about the subjects and life in general," she said. "The students are able to experiment with different materials, techniques, and ways to think critically, so I really think it helps them to be more well-rounded with everything they do."  

First place winners during Tuesday's event will now go to the county STEM fair in February. 

First place winners included: 

• Physics — Sylas Nelson (individual) and Gabe Martin and Wyatt Staton-Cole (Group)

• Chemistry — Tyson McGinnis (individual) and Aiden Keffer and Brooke Meadows (Group)

• Biology — Anthony Wood (individual) and Levi Haney and Colton Neely 

• Health — Kiyah Kitchen (individual)

• Behavioral/Social — Heidi Wood (individual) and Chase Callison and Cole Moody (group) 

— Email: jnelson@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @jnelsonRH 

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