The third annual STARward STEM Expo recently took place at Douglas Bird High School in Fayetteville. Over 200 students from kindergarten to 12th grade attended the event, representing teams from various schools. The winning teams’ science projects will be sent to the International Space Station as “science payloads.”

One student, Maura Richard, expressed her excitement about being able to design her own projects and potentially send them into space. In addition to the winning students, two teachers and a principal will attend the Space Academy for Educators at the US Space and Rocket Center in Alabama in June.

Cumberland County STEM Education Director Frank McKay emphasized the importance of promoting education through events such as the STEM Expo. He highlighted the value of focusing on what communities and the country need right now in terms of education.

Experiments at the fair can range from simple to complex. For example, the Fly Guys student team, including members Richard and Kylie James, is testing whether plant seeds can grow in space. Other experiments in the past have investigated topics such as the effect of perchlorate, a chemical compound found in Martian soil, on aerospace aluminum alloy.

Denise Renfro, a teacher in Cumberland County, recalled a past experiment that investigated the effects of perchlorate on aerospace materials and how it related to corrosion on the Mars rover. The innovation and creativity of the students participating in the fair led to exciting discoveries and the opportunity to have their projects sent to the ISS.

The winners of this year’s STARward STEM Expo will be announced on Tuesday evening.

By Samantha Johnson

As a dedicated content writer at, I immerse myself in the art of storytelling through words. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for crafting engaging narratives, I strive to captivate our audience with each piece I create. Whether I'm covering breaking news, delving into feature articles, or exploring thought-provoking editorials, my goal remains constant: to inform, entertain, and inspire through the power of writing. Join me on this journalistic journey as we navigate through the ever-evolving media landscape together.

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