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ExpoFest 2017

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Well, ExpoFest 2017 has come and left. Many students, teachers, mentors, and other attendants were there, Saturday, May 20th, 2017, to exhibit the projects they had been working on since September. For the Aquaculture teams, however, the students of the AM and PM have been working on their projects since they met in February, once they swapped over classes for the second semester. The two teams have project concepts that vary strongly, with the AM team focusing on alternative fidget devices to replace the ever popular (and ever annoying) fidget spinners that have gotten popular as of late in multiple middle and high schools, and the PM team focusing on a salve to help in the treatment of mastitis in dairy cows.
The AM team named their project FLY Charms, short for First Love Yourself Charms. The team took inspiration in February from the Fidget Cube, which was the popular fidget mechanism at the time, and the fidget spinner, which was slowly coming into the spotlight at the time as well. The general idea was to take away all of the obstructive and distracting parts of these mechanisms (size and sound, for example) and remake them into discrete charms that could be attached to jewelery.
Research was done into different types of mental illnesses that would seek the comfort of fidgeting, such as ADHD, Anxiety, or OCD, and the team developed different charms based a mixture of the results from the research, and what was popular in other devices. For example, one charm was developed after the team found a popular fidget in those with diseases such as Alzheimer’s, called the “pill roller fidget”, in which they rub their forefinger, middle finger, and thumbs together. The charm developed was called the roller charm, and does just as the title implies. Other charms, such as the spinner charm, the marble charm, and revolver charm.
Experiments were actually done with the charms in middle and high school classes that had banned use of the fidget spinners in recent weeks. Upon implementing a test into a freshman biology class where choice students had the FLY Charms and others didn’t, it was found that the students with the charms performed 16% better than those without them. Furthermore, cell phone use decreased and attention went up upon giving students FLY Charms. Because they’re so discreet yet effective, multiple teachers have expressed that they much prefer FLY Charms over fidget spinners or cubes, including Central Magnet English 10 teacher Ms. Reed.
Public feedback has also been nothing short from amazing. The FLY Charms instagram (@fly.charms) has, as I write this, 943 followers, with many often asking when FLY Charms will be up for sale. Students in all participating schools are eager to purchase their own FLY Charms, and there was even a psychiatric office willing to buy $100 worth of FLY Charms. The success in advertising is in large part thanks to FLY Charms’ canadian partner company, Wear Your Label, which is a clothing line company that focuses on ending the stigma surrounding mental illness and promoting mental health. They donated the AM team their “Fresh Perspective” design shirts to wear to ExpoFest 2017, which gained lots of smiles and compliments (as it was in line with the Expo’s theme, fresh perspectives).
Although I’m not part of the PM team, and don’t know much about their process in developing the salve, their overall concept was pretty amazing. Their project was named “Udder Disaster,” and the goal of their team was to create a healing salve for dairy cows suffering with mastitis. I knew that they were using essential oils in their salve, as they had contacted our AM team for any possible donations (since we were extracting our own oils for aromatherapy charms). I also remember them mentioning that they had used basil and garlic within their salve, which ended up giving the salve a lovely smell that one AM team members stated reminded her of pizza. The biotechnology teacher at Aquaculture, Mrs. Ebmeyer, even tested some of the salve on a cut she had, with produced positive results.
During the award ceremony, Aquaculture dominated. The PM team won First Place in the Level 2 NGSS Challenge with Udder Disaster, and the AM team won Second Place for the same category. Furthermore, in the Big Pitch, which is essentially the largest overall competition in which all seventy teams compete despite their varying categories, the AM Team was chosen within the top three. This was especially striking, as Aquaculture had never made it into the Big Pitch before. In the end, FLY Charms was chosen to be the Big Pitch winner, bringing home the glory to Aquaculture.
Word has gone around that ExpoFest 2017 is Aquaculture’s final ExpoFest, so at least both the AM and PM team can leave being comforted with the thought that FLY Charms and Udder Disaster were able to end Aquaculture’s ExpoFest career with a bang.

If you’d like to look further into FLY Charms, their website could be found at flycharms.weebly.com.
If you’d like to look further into Udder Disaster, their website could be found at udderdisaster.weebly.com.

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The student news site of Bridgeport Central High School
ExpoFest 2017