SLIDESHOW: Expo showcases the work of students in OCDE’s independent study program

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A third-grader demonstrated the principles of animation using a zoetrope. An eighth-grader created an intricate Lego model of the Cassini–Huygens spacecraft that orbited Saturn. A sixth-grader explained how stomach acid breaks down food.

And let us not forget the 10-foot mockup of the Washington Monument that explained why the historic obelisk is two different shades.

These were among the many exhibits on display Wednesday at the annual CHEP Expo, which showcased the achievements of students enrolled in OCDE’s Community Home Education Program. The event, which drew scores of families to OCDE’s main campus in Costa Mesa, also featured artwork, along with music and dance performances.

Established in 1988, CHEP is an independent study program that offers free resources — including curriculum and support from certificated teachers — to parents who choose to educate their children at home. The CHEP Expo, which started out as a modest open house, has become one of the program’s signature events.

Occupying several large meeting rooms, this year’s Expo presented rows of student projects connected to science, social studies and the arts. Some were tagged with ribbons indicating first-, second- or third-place honors, having been judged by a panel of teachers earlier in the day.

CHEP teacher Peg Broyles says the projects include work that students have done with their families at home, as well as work that’s been done in CHEP classes offered throughout the year.

But the Expo is more than just a collection of projects. It’s a chance for students and parents to meet, support one another and share ideas, she says.

“I think this is one of the things that our families look forward to every year,” Broyles says. “You come and you look around and you see what other people have done and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to do that next year, that’s a great thing for my child to do.’ It’s just another way to grow.”

Along with the exhibits, the 2018 CHEP Expo hosted a Variety Show that included music and dance performances, as well as an engineering contest that challenged participants to build catapults capable of hurling classic pink erasers.

Led by Principal Jane Doney and administered by OCDE’s alternative education division, CHEP is a state-funded program that currently serves about 600 students from transitional kindergarten through grade eight. Find out more by visiting the CHEP website.