ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

Hundreds of students in the Allentown School District are thinking outside the box.

Students from both high schools and all four middle schools participated Thursday in a science fair in the William Allen High School gym.

School officials say they haven't been able to have a district-wide science fair like this in a very long time.

"To be able to get students engaged in what they're learning and doing hands-on project-based learning is really a great way for students to learn. And we're hoping to be able to inspire some future scientists," said Kelly Murray, director of  Science, Technology, Engineering & Math.

Allentown is one of three cities that was recently chosen to lead a national mentoring movement.

With the help of that federal funding, officials are hoping to partner with local organizations so students can see how science activities can be applied in real life.