Cars, drones and robots zipped around Don Ried Court as the top STEM students from the Merced College and high school communities showcased their innovations at the 2019 Science Fair.

While drones and robotics were two of the big themes on the afternoon, automation was on full display across the gym, including Sydney Cripe’s text-to-braille machine and Tiffany Lehmann and Akasha Ashrah’s player piano-style xylophone.

The students gushed over their successes as well as their missteps.

“It’s mostly trial and error,” Lehmann said. “You have an idea and you get inspired by other inventions, so you draw up a plan and try your best to make it come to life.”

Professors rated the students throughout the day, grading demonstrations and evaluating the levels of engineering and or programming for both individual and group projects. Students from all over campus were welcomed to tour the creations, with participants displaying everything from robotic hands to video game consoles.

Prizes were given to the top three finishers in two categories (Best Programming Project and Best Science Project) for the college and high school levels.

“It’s amazing to see what they make.” Merced College student Socheta Hour said. “It makes me want to participate, to sign up and see what I can do.”

-- Alessandria Pedretti