STEM Expo 2019: Embracing Our Ingenuity, Engineering the Philippine Society

Spearheaded by the Philippine Society of Youth Science Clubs (PSYSC), the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Expo 2019 was held last May 26 to 27 at the SMX Convention Center Aura in Bonifacio Global City. This two-day national convention was bannered by lectures on science journalism, exhibits of investigative projects during a science fair, and project presentations aimed to provide concrete and scientific solutions for 21st century problems.

Isaiah Cabañero, Director of STEM Expo 2019, explained that the main goal of the event was to focus more on innovation and application, rather than the appreciation of hard sciences. He added that the target audience of the STEM Expo were senior high school students, whom they provided opportunities where they could showcase their skills and join in competitions, which mold them to become key players in furthering the progress of STEM in the Philippines.

On theoretical and tangible science

One of the major events of the exposition was the iGEN: Ideathon, an idea pitching portion where participants brainstormed their pitches that were to be presented on the following day, patterned after hackathons as stated by Cabañero.

Loni Gonzalez and Chesca Hufano, Grade 12 students from the Philippine Science High School Cordillera Administrative Region Campus (PSHS-CARC) and participants of the i-GEN:Ideathon, revealed that they also attended last year’s expo and shared, “Na-appreciate ko yung process na tinuturan kami how to think, how to be creative; very important siya in our society.”

(I appreciated the process that teaches us how to think, [and] how to be creative; they are important in our society.)

Another major event in the expo  was iGEN: Innovation, where participants presented and showcased their innovative science investigative projects (SIPs) to experts in the STEM field.

Christian Balinsat, Catherine Fabella, and Charice Tagtag, also Grade 12 students from PSHS-CARC, participated in the SIP competition and disclosed that the reason they joined was to “empower and let students know that they have potential in what they’re doing.”

“It’s actually really enlightening, and we’re really happy to know that [there are] efforts from different students [and] different inventors to have a role or part in improving our system here in the Philippines,” said Tagtag.

Other competitions such as the Robotics Olympiad and the Science Film Festival were also held within the two-day event to showcase and challenge the participants’ knowledge and skill in robotics and to promote science and technology in the Philippine setting and its incorporation in  film.

STEM and beyond

When asked regarding the future of the STEM Expo, Cabañero said that it will still grow, and cited that due to the event being in its infancy, their current ideas should be “improved and polished.” The convention generally garnered positive feedback from its audience and participants though there still is room for improvement, specifically in terms of the SIP competition.

“The innovations competition will be improved kasi may mga suggestions to scale up the projects that are being qualified,” Cabañero stated.

The ideathon and innovation competitions have been their flagship events for the convention, and Cabañero explained that they are planning to still retain it for next year’s STEM Expo.
The director also expressed that he wishes to expand their SIP fair by not only featuring mathematics and science but also the social sciences. From the get-go, the STEM Expo, though with STEM in its name, has always been open to the idea of incorporating the social sciences, Cabañero revealed. He claimed that without the social sciences and humanities, STEM would “just die,” stating, “STEM wouldn’t progress or get to farther distances if strictly STEM lang yung methods [where] scientific methods lang ang manner and strict jargon [are] used. If we don’t mold it to be digestible to the general public, or to a wider audience, STEM would just die on its own.”

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