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Plumas Charter School teacher Hannah Stewart poses with Quincy Learning Center ninth-graders at the annual STEM fair in Anderson. Back, from left: Blake Bridges, Jameson Rothgery, Connor Quade, and Audrey Dotta. Front, from left: Stewart, Kiley McMillan, Marlin Zittrer, Justine Kloppenborg, Jenna Bridges, Cruz Anderson, and Chase Rose, front. Photo by Hannah Stewart

Plumas Charter students attend regional STEM fair

Ninth-graders from Plumas Charter School joined fellow students from across the North State in Anderson at the sixth annual STEM Career Day, called “Ignite Opportunity,” in November.

According to organizers, the event, which is open to ninth-graders from nine Northern California counties, “encourages North State students to prepare for and pursue career opportunities in STEM fields” (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math).

Students from PCS’s Quincy Learning Center and Indian Valley Academy joined their counterparts from 30 other North State schools in attending the event.

Through exhibits, presentations and hands-on innovation challenges, the STEM fair exposes students to local and regional career ideas they might not have considered previously. The event also provides opportunities for students to interact in person with local professionals and college students, ask questions, and hear real-life anecdotes and advice.

Each year, students work on a STEM challenge during the fair. This year’s project? Design an efficient windmill to generate electricity. Students were able to experiment with blade types attached to an axle and multimeter, using data to alter and improve their designs. According to teacher Hannah Stewart, PCS students created one of the most successful windmills!

Event organizers said that in the STEM challenge, “students learn a real-world engineering process and are inspired to consider their daily energy use and impacts on the Earth’s natural and human systems. Everyone is an engineer in daily life and some choose it as a career!”

Exhibitors and presenters this year included government entities, local businesses, medical services, law enforcement agencies, local colleges and vocational programs, and robotics and technology companies.

PCS students said they enjoyed the exhibits because they were entertaining and instructive. Many students’ favorite exhibit was the California Highway Patrol’s “drunk goggles,” which simulate the effects of intoxication. “It was interesting to feel what it would feel like to be under the influence and trying to walk and drive,” said Jameson Rothgery.

Andrew Dolezal liked the welding booth, and Justine Kloppenborg liked the CPR booth, because each provided opportunities for students to learn or try something new.

The engineering booth was popular because the exhibitor “let us into the conversation by saying interesting things like you don’t need a college degree to start and you get paid a lot,” said Blake Bridges. Jenna Bridges agreed: “It seemed really interesting that you can mix a lot of math and drawing into it.”

Students reported that the fair inspired them to explore quite a few new career paths, such as robotics, mechanical engineering, programming, welding, nursing, surveying, law enforcement dispatch, and marine biology.

The annual STEM Career Day was originally founded by the Shasta County Office of Education; it is supported by donations from community and business partners.

Plumas Charter School serves students across Plumas and adjacent counties. Learn more by visiting plumascharterschool.org or calling 283-3851.


Ingrid Burke is the public relations specialist for Plumas Charter School.

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