During science class students researched, designed, created, and then finally presented their projects at this year’s exhibit. Each grade focused on a specific theme that crosscut into their current science unit of study. This year’s STEAM Fair was a huge success for these independent thinkers!
The Kindergarten night unit, which included learning about nocturnal animals and constellations, led to a cross-grade level project with seventh graders. Together, each team fabricated a mini golf course hole that, when painted with glow in the dark paint and placed collectively, provided a golf course exhibit for all to negotiate.
Incorporating two first grade science units, sound and insects, students constructed Hexbug habitats, which were exhibited on a table together to create a community. Using individual insect investigations, students transformed their Hexbugs to depict the insects they were researching and then fashioned a blueprint for the habitat, which included several criteria needed for that specific insect to survive: water, food, and shelter. Many students even included an exercise area for their Hexbug! To bring the blueprints to life, students constructed Hexbug habitats inside pizza boxes using pasta, straws, mini marshmallows, index cards, and tinfoil to create a maze for the small robots to navigate.
Second graders completed a unit on simple machines that included incline planes, wedges, wheels and axles, levers, screws, and pulleys. Using information gleaned from this unit, students imagined inventions to enhance the human experience. Students engineered models, discovered the importance of patents, displayed infographics, and recorded commercials for the RCS Piranha Tank, our version of Shark Tank. This year we were honored to have the performing arts showcased with a song written about the inventions by music teacher Lainie Zades for second grade students to perform.
As an outside-of-class project, second grade students had the opportunity to act as docents for the STEAM Fair. Each student docent chose a famous scientist or engineer to research, dress up as, and essentially played that person at the exhibit. Seeing students dressed as Sally Ride and Thomas Edison who were able to answer fun facts about their scientist’s or engineer’s life was not only a fun treat for the attendees but also a great way to build confident communicators and engage the students to be independent learners.
As part of an initiative to bring robotics into the classroom, students in third grade had the opportunity to experiment and design robots using LEGO WeDo 2.0 robotics kits. Working in teams of two, students built and programmed a robot, which included two or more of the following traits: steer, grab, sweep, tilt, wobble, rotate, or revolve. Through many revisions, teams successfully executed their designs to navigate an obstacle course, sweep away debris, push garbage, pull animals, or wobble down a road. The final hurdle for each team was keeping the robot on the 20x30-inch board without falling off. Listening to teams describe their revisions allowed attendees to truly understand the extent of learning that took place during this project.
Using the Trout in the Classroom project as a foundation for the fourth grade curriculum this year, the students used aspects of their most recent unit on Life and Nature to introduce us to biomimicry. The fourth graders explored how ideas in natural life can be taken and used in man-made objects to improve human life, such as burrs to velcro and cacti to a hairbrush. The students had an opportunity to research and invent their own devices based on biomimicry, take a device that already exists and improve upon it with biomimicry or research a biomimicry invention already in use and present that at the STEAM Fair. This project gave them the opportunity to expand their thinking beyond the classroom and offered the students an exciting way to explore problem solving while working on the construction of their models.
“The children were prepared, well-spoken, and excited to provide each of the visitors with information about their projects,” explained parent Patreece Creegan (Paul ’21, Paige ’26). “What a pleasure it was to see the students’ patents, the poster boards, the songs, the commercials, and the knowledgeable docents.”
TEXT: Kelley Horton and Sandy Jordan