While activity is fast and furious signing aviation acts, recruiting volunteers and laying out the grounds for the 2018 air show, there is equal effort preparing for the event’s dynamic STEM Expo.
Darrin Peters is a high-school chemistry teacher and renewable fuel project coordinator at Rockwood Summit High School. He is also a veteran exhibitor at the Spirit of St. Louis Air Show & STEM Expo. Darrin shared some thoughts on the Expo and plans for 2018.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your previous experiences at the STEM Expo?
Darrin: We have always enjoyed our experiences at the STEM Expo. In the past we have made soap from the glycerin byproduct of our biodiesel process, while we have educated the public on the potential of renewable fuels.
Q: What do you have in store for 2018?
Darrin: Our students will titrate waste vegetable oil to see how acidic it is before it can be made into biodiesel. They will also titrate finished biodiesel to be sure it does not contain harmful levels of soap.
Q: Wow. Anything for us “non-chemists”?
Darrin: Sure! We will display a super-mileage car, our Biodiesel Dodge truck, and a Biodiesel Educational Mobile Trailer that has been made for us by Ranken Technical College. The trailer will serve as the work space for the visiting students that will be making titrations. We want to connect with teachers and let them know our mission of the trailer and Rockwood Summit’s Biodiesel Project. Our students will be there to present the purpose of their project and to answer questions.
Q: That’s terrific. Why is the STEM Expo important to your educational initiatives?
Darrin: STEM is critical because it helps prepare our students for the future. We believe the best jobs the world has to offer are STEM related. This trend will only increase as time goes by. The STEM Expo provides a great forum to bring together a focus on this in a fun and active atmosphere.
Q: How are we doing in the St. Louis region preparing young people for that future?
Darrin: STEM is one of the most important educational movements I know of and I think St. Louis is on track with helping educators realize its importance in the future, simply because of the increased amount of different resources available to teachers today, like the adoption of Next-Generation Science Standards in our schools.