Through a generous grant from Holcim, Morgan Elementary was able to realize a goal they have had for several years. Principal Wolff, along with the community council, staff, and others have had a vision to host a STEM night for some time and with the money from Holcim, they were able to welcome students and their families to an evening of fun learning on May 2.
As they began to organize the event, the plans changed from a broad night about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to a more focused night of science, specifically about space.
Wolff is very concerned about what he views as a lack of women and girls working in areas that STEM involves. Wolff wanted to show the boys and girls not only that science “can” be fun but that it “is” fun. His two daughters were among the estimated 200 people who experimented and learned throughout the evening.
The scientific students began the evening by separating into different areas of the school. Each grade was in charge of an activity but the students could go to any of the different areas. With three rotations, the schoolchildren were able to participate in many of the activities.
Kindergarten hosted a fun smart board space shapes game in Mrs. Dicou’s room. This grade had the fewest attendees which allowed those that came a great opportunity to really participate.
The first grade made space in a jar by adding in meteors (marbles), Sun (Bright metallic pompom), Moon (white pompom), Earth (blue pompom) stars, and other fun items into bottles of water, oil, and coloring. This easy hands on project was a hit with the young grade as well as the other students throughout the school who came to participate.
The students also tested how craters are created in a big tub of moon dough. A variety of items could be dropped into the dough to test how craters are formed, depending on size and weight. In another area, the students used magnetic building pieces to create their own rocket ships. This activity brought the arts and sciences together as students created their own masterpiece of scientific ingenuity. The first grade teachers also offered a chance to label the planets in order.
The computer lab turned into a planetarium as the second grade teachers helped students construct constellations from marshmallows and toothpicks. With galactic maps of the sky guiding them in their quest to create constellations, students worked to copy real designs or make up some of their own. In addition to the crafty astronomical creation the students could also work on the computers.
The third graders met in a classroom where Mr. Fowles gave a brief overview of how rockets work. With that knowledge, the students went outside and learned hands on how the projectiles worked as they filled bottles with water and hooked them up to a launcher and then used a pump to rocket them into the air. This was entertaining for little kids as well as the adults watching and helping. When third grade teacher Mrs. Long thought about what activity her grade would host, she remembered the rocket launcher they had used in the past. “I knew,” she said with a nod as she helped fill bottles for excited children, “It’s been tested.”
Fourth grade teacher Mrs. Netz knew an activity that has entertained since B.C. times- paper airplanes. With an array of designed paper ranging from zebra to camo, Netz and others helped students learn to fold airplanes. Her favorite helper, or so it could be assumed, was 6th grader Chase Netz. They learned how to properly fold ten different airplanes ranging from simple to complex. This tried and true activity didn’t disappoint and children continued to attempt to fold and fly paper airplanes throughout the evening, long after the rotations ended.
The fifth grade took the students back outside with rockets. This time 5th grader Jacob Pincock took the lead explaining rockets while allowing the student body to try out his rocket launcher. Jacob and his father, High School teacher John Pincock, helped launch rocket after rocket as he explained how his uncle had a rocket launcher he brought to family gatherings and parties. Two years ago Jacob’s uncle gave him a bag of rockets and his own launcher. This proved to be a perfect gift.
“Whenever we launch it, we try and catch it,” Jacob explained excitedly. This is no easy task, using a formula Pincock estimates the rockets move at a speed of nearly 110 mph.
After rotating through as many of the activities as they could fit in during the rotations, everyone met together in the gym for an awesome lesson from Mad Science; a company designed to help students love and learn science. The presenter “Lightening” first taught the concept of forming a hypothesis and testing it by predicting that she would be able to learn everybody’s name if they all said it at the same time. It was quickly apparent that the hypothesis failed to teach Lightening the students names but it succeeded in teaching the students about forming and testing a hypothesis. With eager help from volunteers, she was able to represent just how big our universe is, create a hover craft, and demonstrate scientific laws.
The Science Night ended with star gazing at the football field at the high school with an expert provided by Mad Science.