Biocom Institute Festival of Science & Engineering San Diego Gears Up for Stellar ‘Summer STEM Challenge’ Competition

Biocom Institute Festival of Science & Engineering San Diego Gears Up for Stellar ‘Summer STEM Challenge’ Competition
June, 2016 Client News

SAN DIEGOJune 1, 2016 – This year marks the third annual “Summer STEM Challenge” hosted by the Biocom Institute Festival of Science & Engineering San Diego in partnership with ViaSat, a global broadband services and technology company headquartered in Carlsbad, California. This year’s challenge, which is inspired by space exploration and travel, takes place July 11 through August 19, 2016.

The “Summer STEM Challenge” encourages students and parents throughout the San Diego region to seek, find and try “do-it-yourself” (DIY) science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) experiments and projects that can be created with everyday household items. In following the space-related theme, organizers plan to feature daily STEM projects, such as Fizzing Planets and Straw Rockets to Marshmallow Constellations and Solar Ovens, on their social media channels and in bi-weekly emails, providing plenty of ideas for student participants to keep their brains stimulated throughout the summer break – avoiding the “summer slide.”

According to the National Summer Learning Association, “all young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer…and most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in math skills over the summer months.” Programs such as the “Summer STEM Challenge” focus on keeping students engaged in educational activities, encouraging students and their families to participate in productive activities that keep STEM skills in tip-top shape even during the summer break.

Each month, students are encouraged to submit a summary of their completed DIY projects with pictures, videos or other relevant materials for review. At the beginning of September 2016, winners from each schooling level (pre-K, elementary, middle and high school) will be chosen by the Education Committee and Management Team of the Biocom Institute Festival of Science & Engineering. Winners will be awarded fun prize baskets with STEM-related activities donated from the Festival’s collaborators and exhibitors. Prizes will include science experiment kits, passes to local STEM attractions, tours of local science and space companies and more.

“We are very excited for this program to create a bond between family members while embracing their creative minds,” says Sara Pagano, managing director, Biocom Festival of Science & Engineering San Diego. “The ‘Summer STEM Challenge’ allows students to be inspired by science in an imaginative way, keeping learning at the forefront of their summer.”

“The ‘Summer STEM Challenge’ has the power to provide a meaningful and fun avenue for students to learn even when school is on break,” said Melinda Del Toro, ViaSat’s vice president of human resources. “As a company recognized for launching communications satellites into space – we are truly proud and honored to partner with the Biocom Institute Festival of Science & Engineering San Diego on this year’s space-themed program – as students and their families collaborate and learn about innovations in space.”

The recent eighth annual Biocom Institute Festival of Science & Engineering San Diego (formerly known as the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering) was held in March 2016, and successfully brought together more than 65,000 kids, parents, teachers, industry leaders and community members for EXPO Day and Festival Week. This year’s festival expanded its event efforts to not only adults with its new 21 and up series, but also to diverse communities in San Diego with mini versions of EXPO Day through its “STEM in Your Backyard” series. Through the “Summer STEM Challenge,” the festival continues to expand their year-round activities and events, not just one week per year during Festival Week and EXPO Day.

In 2015, the following students won the “Summer STEM Challenge”:

Elementary School:
Colton G.
Hope Elementary – Carlsbad, CA
Grade: 2
Topic: Learning to be a Paleontologist!
Project Description: “I learned about being a paleontologist. I learned how to dig for fossils and be very patient. I used a screwdriver and a brush to carefully dig. I also learned how to prepare fossils. I learned how to clean the bones with a drill. I saw an allosaurus tooth, a raptor, a T-rex, dinosaur footprints, and camarasaurus bones. I love dinosaurs and I want to be a paleontologist.”

Alyson E.
La Costa Heights Elementary – Carlsbad, CA
Grade: K-4
Topic: Newton’s Third Law!
Project Description:  “Newton’s Third Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. How forces act and how this balloon rocket car is a simplified way of how a rocket works.” VIDEO here.

Middle School:
Agape de Unamuno
Marshall Elementary – San Diego, CA (Chollas Creek neighborhood)
Grade: 5
Topic: Excavation Experiment
Project Description: “My siblings and I really want to be paleontologists and love dinosaurs, so for my project, I did a fossil hunt.  In this experiment, we used a paintbrush and sand shovels to excavate bones in my backyard. We were originally looking for dinosaur bones. With the help of my family, we found 14 bones. According to my research, the bones might belong to an opossum. But there is no exact answer you can get when you are researching from various sources on the Internet. So the fossils could belong to multiple animals, or even a small dog.
During my research I found out that there is a very defined difference in your bones, depending on your age. For an example, if you are younger, say 13 years old, your bones look less developed than it would look when you are 60 years old. My guess is because is how much calcium you consume over the years. I also learned about radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon dating is when you measure how much carbon is in the bones. Scientists use this to determine the age of the fossils. I plan on continuing my research and hope to have the job of a paleontologist for a career.”

High School:
Luke L.
Canyon Crest Academy – Rancho Santa Fe, CA
Grade: 11
Topic: Using Alternative Farming Methods to Preserve Water While Feeding Global Populations
Project Description: “For my challenge, I built an aquaponics grow wall to see if this solution could help mitigate the Urban Heat Island Effect (UHI). By placing thermometers in different locations and measuring the temperature at different times of day, I learned this would in fact help reduce temperatures in UHI environments. When I was adding water one day, I decided to start measuring how much water was lost to evapotranspiration compared to traditional agricultural methods and an indoor aquaponics system. With the severity of the California drought, I learned that my aquaponics grow wall lost 41.3% less water volume compared to traditional methods of irrigation and my indoor system lost 49.2% less of water volume than traditional methods. Both systems would be able to save farmers millions of gallons of water per year, while still allowing them to grow a large amount of inexpensive, sustainable food!”

For more information on the Summer STEM Challenge and how to participate, please visit or contact Amanda Coates, communications and program manager, San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering via

About the Biocom Institute Festival of Science & Engineering San Diego
The mission of the Biocom Institute Festival of Science and Engineering San Diego is to engage kids in science and engineering. By doing this, the organization expands the general public’s understanding of the relevancy of science and engineering in everyday lives, illuminates why the United States must maintain its leadership role in science and technology, and work with parents and teachers to inspire today’s students to become tomorrow’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematical (STEM) innovators. For more information, visit or call (858) 455-0300 ext. 104. Connect on Facebook and Twitter.

About ViaSat
ViaSat, Inc. keeps the world connected. As a global broadband services and technology company, ViaSat ensures consumers, businesses, governments and military personnel have communications access – anywhere – whether on the ground or in-flight. The Company’s innovations in designing highest-capacity satellites and secure ground infrastructure and terminal technologies coupled with its international network of managed Wi-Fi hotspots enable ViaSat to deliver a best available network that extends the reach and accessibility of broadband internet service, globally. For more information visit ViaSat at:, or follow the Company on social media:  FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and YouTube.