WINSTON — Brockway Elementary School entertained students and families on Tuesday evening with interactive science, technology, engineering, art and math displays at its first ever STEAM Night.
“We have done math nights and reading nights in the past, but we wanted to give parents a new way to enjoy some time with their family and get some hands-on learning,” said Brockway Elementary Principal Kerry Dwight.
Sponsored and funded by the Brockway parents’ group, East Coast company Mobile Ed Productions turned the school’s gymnasium into a portable, hands-on science museum. On its website, the company’s goal is “incorporating art to bring the right-brain into traditional scientific thinking.”
Exhibits included one-of-a-kind pinball machine — which teaches about gravity, addition, subtraction and positive and negative numbers through classic pinball gameplay — a build-an-arch that uses large foam blocks to show how a keystone works, a 3D printer, a programmable robot similar to the NASA Discovery robot on Mars, a music maker that requires students to communicate and work together to create their own music and a line-tracking robot.
“This is a museum designed for hands-on learning,” said presenter Scott Dodson. “They might be able to code for the first time; its a simple code, programing a car that looks like a remote control car, but they are coding it, programing it.”
The school also added its own activities. Students used directional coding blocks to move a Cubetto Educational Coding Robot around a map. Second-graders made playable arcade games out of cardboard and other household items. One classroom turned out the lights and used tinfoil sculptures and flashlights to show how the science and art of shadows.
“It’s not about being a scientist anymore, it’s about being a STEAMist,” Dodson said. “What’s a STEAMist? All these skills together. It’s a combination — and that is what the next-gen school agendas are all about.”
Tablets were available to explore different apps and websites dedicated to STEAM education. They also included adaptive role-playing games that require math to play. Many of the resources the school featured, like the Cubetto robot and tablets, are included in its day-to-day lessons. Staff also handed out flyers with additional information and resources that could be used at home.
“They are learning how to do problem-solving without a lot of instruction from us but from their own prior knowledge. They are using what they already know and putting it to work,” said third-grade teacher Amber Roberts. “Most of us can do what we are told to do, however, when you ask them to do something they want to do and that they are making their own solution for, they do it a lot better and get more out of it.”
Kids were provided a passport to take to all five areas to be stamped. Once filled, those passports were entered into a drawing for STEAM related prizes.
“Anytime we can get kids’ hands working on things and them having fun doing it is beneficial and educational,” Dwight said. “It makes school fun.”