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Summit Academy students explore science, technology at school's first STEAM night

Mar 01, 2018 12:55AM ● Published by Julie Slama

Third-grader Mikayla Riley held an octopus during Summit Academy's first STEAM Night. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

There were Spheros rolling on the gym floor, painted cotton balls stuck to the walls and a dead squid on the countertop.

While it may sound a little random, there was a science about it as students and families attended the school’s first STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and math — Night.

“Each grade promotes rigor and higher-level thinking so this night showcases projects they’ve worked on as well as allows them to explore what STEAM holds for them in their future with hands-on activities,” sixth-grade teacher Lindy Hatch said.

The Spheros, which students controlled with iPads, were first running a maze, then being moved creatively by students.

“It’s fun,” second-grader Katie Perry said about the first time learning about the Sphero. “I’m able to control where it goes.”

Her mother, Marie, brought her daughter to STEAM Night to introduce her to new technology and also to support the book fair, which was running in conjunction with the event.

“She’s a sponge at this age,” Perry said. “She starts asking questions and wanting to know why and how.”

Third-grade teacher Mike Scoville said that in his classroom, he has taught the basics of coding with Scratch and Hour of Code so students are familiar with sequence and logic. Now, he is teaching them how to use the Sphero SPRK, which are spherical robots designed for academics and are capable of rolling around, controlled by a smartphone or tablet. 

“We created a pretty complicated game through coding,” he said. “This will help them much more than a math book.”

In a nearby classroom, students created catapults out of popsicle sticks, then dipped cotton balls in paint to launch at a piece of butcher paper hung on a wall.

Sixth-grader Grace Parkin was there with her friend, sixth-grader Zoey Poulsen, and her sister, seventh-grader Lillian.

“It’s fun if I get enough paint on it when I shoot it — it sticks to the paper,” Grace said.

Zoey said although it’s messy, it was easy to launch.

The girls also went to a classroom next door where they observed a squid, octopus, chicken feet and other items in a biofood lab.

“The biofood lab allowed students to examine squid, shrimp, clams, octopus and other items they may normally not get to investigate,” fourth-grade teacher Angela Grimmer said, adding that although she has integrated STEAM into her classroom, she is excited to see it become school-wide.

Third-grader Mikayla Riley may be considered brave amongst those who attended the night as she picked up a dead octopus to feel its tentacles — twice.

“He’s already dead, so it doesn’t hurt him and I wanted to know what an octopus feels like,” Mikayla said, who also discovered fossils in another part of the school.

She was with her family, including her fifth-grade sister Victoria and her kindergarten-age sister Trinity, and liked learning about Snowflake Bentley and his discovery that no two snowflakes are alike.

While science may be a career choice, it isn’t Mikyala’s first goal. “I want to be a good soccer player,” she said.

The STEAM night had a myriad of activities — field investigation police work, a flight simulator, Makey Makey invention kits, sound-wave instruments, circuit makers and more, including student artwork displayed in a gallery stroll. Several student council and National Junior Honor Society members as well as National Honors Society members from Summit High in Bluffdale helped to monitor the stations.

Sixth-grader Londyn, third-grader Jackson and four-year-old Caroline were with their mother, Linzy Conradt, exploring electricity with squishy circuits.

“My son is new to Summit so we were excited to see what is offered and what my son will be learning,” she said.

Students also could check out a roller coaster made by fourth-graders using index cards or see ancient Egyptian mummy replicas created by sixth-graders using newspapers and masking tape.

“The students had to design, create and engineer these themselves. It involves critical thinking and problem-solving skills and working as a team. It helps to prepare them for careers that don’t exist (yet),” Hatch said. “I hope this piques students’ interests and allows parents to see there are projects they can do together over the summer or on weekends.” 

Education, Today

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