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Draper Journal

Summit Academy community bonds through STEAM exploration, activities

Jun 02, 2023 10:33AM ● By Julie Slama

From ants to aviation, students showcased their knowledge and explored new activities with their families during Summit Academy’s STEAM night.

“We had a large turnout, hundreds of people, and I think that is because this night is fun, especially when you have both the science aspect and the art aspect of it together,” said fifth-grade teacher Mike Scoville, who oversaw the event. “Most of our activities encourage kids to explore and tinker around. It’s what they want to do. What I love about STEAM education is that it gives us a chance for them to take control of their own learning.”

Second-grader Isaac Light brought his dad, Daryl, to his cousin’s school and were looking at STEAM displays near the Mathnasium classroom and across from engineers teaching about water purification and filtration.

“We wanted to explore and have fun checking out the activities tonight,” he said, adding that the first one they did was a coding class.

They were down the hall from where students built structures with K’nex and across from a classroom where students were learning Scratch from two Summit Academy alumni, who bonded during their Advanced Placement physics class with four students their senior year at Summit High.

Andrew Fraser, who now is a software engineer, volunteered for his third time to lead the students during STEAM night.

“The kids get to see a game and then change how it works and it’s a fun opportunity for them to explore,” he said. “This is an easy step because when you’re starting from the beginning, it’s hard to do anything, but when you start the game in the middle, you just get to fiddle with a couple things and it’s easier to learn. The real goal tonight is to get them excited and once they’re excited, they’re going to go home and want to try it out for themselves. Eventually, they’ll learn more, which will build good foundations.”

His friend, who also was in that high school physics class, Johan Boer, was learning Scratch alongside with the kids.

“It’s similar to other games with coding, so it’s easy to understand,” he said. “That’s the thing, once these students learn the basics, they’ll be able to apply more concepts and figure out how to build something of their own. Eventually, they’ll understand how they can impact the world. It’s been cool, to inspire learning.” 

Fifth-grader Ethan Clark brought his new hobby to school to inspire his friends. He showed his three colonies of ants.

“I want to introduce others to the hobby with my ant farm because it’s fun just watching the colonies grow,” he said. “It’s so amazing they work together to make a huge nest. I did about one month of research to learn all about them before I got them.”

Down the hallway from him, his mother Sarah was helping his second-grade sister, Annabelle, make a twirligig out of six colored strips of paper. Others were using Sharpies to draw pictures to create Shrinky Dink keychains.

Parent Dani Bradshaw was helping her preschooler, Jocelyn, with a project as the other three kids she brought were exploring activities in other classrooms.

“My kids were excited just because they know they get to do a lot of different STEAM activities,” she said. “They are excited to see all the reptiles from Scales and Tails, but they really liked learning about LEGO robotics and the aviation club room was really fun. They made their own planes and tried out the simulator.”

The aviation club was formed this school year and club members shared their enthusiasm and passion for the field. 

“It’s a lot of fun and we get to explore more about aviation and share it with our friends,” said seventh-grader Shamon Pacheco.

Eighth-grader Bennett Richards added, “Careers in aviation are understaffed, so what we’re learning in aviation club is applicable to the industry.”

His classmate, eighth-grader Ty Davis, said that he enjoys both flying models as well as learning about aviation-related careers during the weekly club meetings. He was inviting other students to join.

That opportunity for students to try new activities and connect with others who share common interests are other reasons Scoville appreciates STEAM night.

“This is a good way for our community to come together; it’s great that our older students are sharing with our younger kids. In one area, the younger kids built cars with rubber bands to propel them and older students were there to guide them,” he said. “A lot of the activities allowed students to try something and although we’re there to coach them, they’re getting to understand they can try again if it doesn’t work out the first time. We’re really trying to hit on those principles of cause and effect and problem and solution so students can apply it.”

He said it’s important that all students are problem-solvers.

“We’re training kids to grow up and innovate. We need them to understand that when things aren’t immediate, we need to keep digging and finding solutions to problems,” he said. “For us, STEAM isn’t just one night; we do it throughout the school year. This is a night to showcase what we’re doing in class and to introduce students to new concepts to explore.” λ