PLAINVILLE – Elementary school students are conducting science experiments and creating art projects after school as part of the annual “STEAM Nights” program this month.
“We’re really trying to expose kids to all sorts of things,” said Phil Sanders, district math and science instructional leader for grades pre-k to fifth grade. “There’s a lot more interest.”
The concept of STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics — is similar to STEM, which is taught at the high school, except for the addition of arts.
For the last several years, the elementary schools have been participating in a series of nights for different grades focused on math and science activities. The nights evolved to focus on all the elements of STEAM.
Students, accompanied by their families, participate in a variety of activities at different stations set up in the school throughout the night. Students from Plainville High School’s national science honors society volunteer and help the elementary school students. School staff also assist in the six nights for each school.
The events are funded by the Elizabeth Norton Grant Foundation.
“We’ve had super turnouts,” Sanders said.
An average of 100 students, parents and volunteers attended a STEAM night earlier this month for third, fourth and fifth graders earlier at Linden Elementary School.
The next events will be for Toffolon Elementary School for third through fifth graders on Tuesday, April 2, at 6 pm., and Thursday, April 4, at 6 p.m., for students in kindergarten through second grade.
Some experiments include creating a rubber band powered car, film canister rockets, slime and bouncy balls. Art was added to the mix with a watercolor painting project using baking soda and vinegar for a visible chemical reaction.
“What can we learn, how can we make it better?” Sanders said.
When the students are not able to conduct a successful experiment, it gives them the chance to ask questions and figure out how to make something work.
“I was very impressed with how engaged the students and their parents were in the event,” said Maureen Brummett, Superintendent of Plainville schools. “It's a great opportunity for children and their families to learn math and science concepts and have fun at the same time.”
For fifth graders, the experience prepares them for the curriculum in middle school. Last summer Middle School of Plainville added several STEAM lab areas in the basement of the school where students can conduct hands-on activities.
“This is what people do for a living,” Sanders said. “The kids really love it.”
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