CHEP Expo showcases projects and performances by students enrolled in OCDE’s independent study program

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Paper roller coasters, engineered to send marbles through complex loops, tunnels and spirals. A robotic hand that opens and closes by programming a computer. A kid-size submarine mockup, made of cardboard.

These are some of the cool exhibits we spotted at Tuesday’s CHEP Expo, which showcased the work of students enrolled in OCDE’s Community Home Education Program, or CHEP. The event also featured some compelling student artwork and impressive music and dance performances.

Administered by OCDE, CHEP is an award-winning independent study program that offers free resources to parents who choose to educate their children at home. One of its signature events is the annual CHEP Expo, which began as a small open house but has since grown to occupy almost an entire building on the OCDE campus.

This year’s Expo once again displayed rows of projects reflecting lessons in science, social studies and art — some of which were eligible for honors. Meanwhile, in an adjacent room, talented student musicians and dancers participated in a Variety Show.

The event also featured the popular Great Egg Racer Crash Competition — this is a student engineering contest — and the Young Authors’ Faire, celebrating original books by CHEP writers and illustrators.

“It’s really a fun, safe place for the kids to be creative and show a different side of themselves,” said Celeste Craig, whose two children, Joshua, 13, and Gloria, 11, performed in the Variety Show. “The kids are very supportive of each other — it’s like a family.”

Along with providing curriculum for parents who opt to home-school, CHEP offers the support of certificated educators to students and the adults who teach them. The state-funded program has been around since 1988 an​d currently serves about 600 students from transitional kindergarten through grade eight.

Find out more by visiting the CHEP website.