SMSD News: 2020 Research & Development Forum goes virtual

While life has profoundly changed over the last two months, this time has also presented opportunities to demonstrate resilience, adaptability, and creativity. Nowhere are these traits more visible than in the 58th annual Research & Development (R&D) Forum, which takes place May 1-3, 2020. The R&D Forum, a showcase of projects and displays which illustrate the academic excellence of Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) students, is taking place virtually this year, using Twitter.

Through the R&D Forum, students are invited to engage in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) activities. In previous years, participating students have come together to share their work with the community. Social distancing requirements have made that impossible this year, so instead, students and their family members have been asked to take a photo or video clip of their project or art, and to upload it to Twitter, using the hashtag #SMSDRandD.

There will be no formal categories or judging of exhibits this year.

Teachers and parents really stepped up this year to support students in participating. Crystal Williamson, SMSD parent and sixth grade teacher at Trailwood Elementary, shared her third grade and eighth grade daughters’ Rube Goldberg machines.

“My primary goal for each girl was to have an opportunity to practice perseverance and problem solving in a fun, non-threatening way” Williamson noted. “They both had a blast, and we enjoyed looking at all of the ‘fails’ and seeing how strong we can be when we persevere.”

You can see their Rube Goldberg machines in action here:
8th grader:
3rd grader:

Williamson noted that R&D Forum is a great way for students to share their learning with an audience beyond that of their classroom teacher. This year, participating in the forum online broadens that audience even further.

“Plus, what a fun way to share some of the real-life learning students have been doing with their parents at home—garden projects, family dinners prepared together, repairs on the car with Dad in the garage,” explained Williamson.

As a result of the pandemic, Paulo Harris Boy Scout Troop 282 member and sixth grade student at Corinth Elementary, conducted, documented and reported the results of three different at-home Environmental Science Merit Badge experiments for his Troop. Paulo explained how to perform each experiment so that his peer Scouts could also complete experiments as part of their merit badge requirements. Paulo’s experiments are documented on his YouTube channel and can be viewed at the following links.

Acid Rain Experiment

Soil Erosion Experiment

Biodegradable Material Experiment

“The most important thing I have learned is that as a community we can save the Earth,” Paulo noted.

Our sincere appreciation goes to the Regnier Family for 58 years of generous support for the SMSD R&D Forum​.