I had to miss Voyager Elementary School’s first ever “STEAM Rocks! 2017” last month. Thanks to the event’s organizer, school STEM specialist Catherine Schwab, we managed to cover it anyway.
“Students and their families gathered to explore, create, observe and enjoy a great time with 23 science, technology, engineering, art and math activities,” explained Schwab and fellow STEM specialist Sheryl Mills. The two had planned to host the event one month prior to Voyager’s upcoming Science Fair in order to get students and their families excited about all aspects of STEAM.
“Stations were run by over 30 volunteer teachers, parents and community organizations,” said Schwab.
Students picked up a passport and paper bag — to hold all of their creations — at the school entrance. In the gym, they first passed the veterinarian station where Dr. Suzanne Thomas and her two dogs and hairless cat taught them how to give a proper exam.
“Most everyone loved the vet station,” Schwab said. “Families and kids had a lot of fun.”
Pierce Conservation District expert Christopher Towe, assisted by his wife, Brittany, taught students about the life cycle of salmon with a survival dice game, displaying how and where salmon eggs are lost as they face obstacles until they hatch. Towe also displayed salmon eggs in different life stages showing the salmon life cycle.
The hallway held a race car ramp and estimation station manned by fifth-grader Dash Schwab. Kids of all ages already knew how to place their matchbox cars at the top, but most were not as familiar at estimating the distance their cars would travel. In several attempts, their estimating skills improved.
Fourth-grader Brooke Zerngast enthused that she “had a blast at STEAM Rocks!”
Parent and PTA treasurer Dave Harrington heated a soda can half filled with water to boiling. It turned from liquid to a gas called water vapor, which pushed air out. The can was turned upside down and placed on dry ice in a bowl, where its mouth formed an airtight seal against the surface of the water bowl and in a split second, the water vapor that pushed the air out of the can turned into a drop of liquid taking up little space. The resulting crushed can delighted, among others, third-graders Dawson Schmidt and Sage Easley and Sage’s mom, Dawn.
Said kindergartener Nicholas Bartlett, playing the Big Bad Wolf with a hair drier, “I liked trying to blow my house down.”
As one of the three little pigs, he’d built it earlier.
Harbor Code Academy had laptops to teach coding and robots that followed colored lines.
Artist Mardie Rees set up a miniature art studio with proper lighting, items to be drawn, black paper and chalk to teach blind contour drawing.
Second-grader Sage Easley declared: “I loved everything at STEAM Rocks; I love science!”
Puget Sound Navy Museum’s Carolyn Lane had kids like Harper Morrison rockin’ and rollin’ with some robotic cubelets, as they learned how to control the lit cubes with their hand movements.
Amidst a swirl of activities, fourth-grader Maya Noren constructed a diving board with dominoes. Classmate Hugh Vicente, with resource teacher Leslie Walker, played Math Jenga. Ethan and Connor Beck, first-graders, watched robots follow a solid line with Gaylene Peterson from Harbor Code Academy. Second-grader Derek Nelson built a kaleidoscope. Kindergartener Jacob Hurley and his dad launched a squishy circuit helicopter and Darren Stewart built a light circuit with Squishy Circuits,p which use conductive and insulating Play-Doh to teach the basics of electrical circuits.
“Students left Voyager with marshmallow molecules, handmade kaleidoscopes, their very own harmonica, adorable tin can robots and,” said Schwab, “hopefully, the motivation to accomplish an awesome Science Fair Project.”
Sure wish Idda bin there!
STEM specialist Catherine Schwab can be reached at 253-530-4865.
Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.