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Sandy Journal

Silver Mesa Holds First STEAM Night

Mar 09, 2016 03:06PM ● By Bryan Scott

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Sandy - Silver Mesa fifth-grader Kaleolani Kirby was looking at her peers’ science fair projects.  She, along with her second-grade brother, Gideon, and kindergarten-age sister, Amira, all entered the fair with individual projects related to germs.

“I wanted to know first-hand answers to my questions, and this allowed me to find out,” Kaleolani said.  “This night is awesome.”

The Jan. 25 event was Silver Mesa’s first STEAM night, or science, technology, engineering, arts and math night, sponsored by its Parent-Teacher Association. About 350 students, families and community members walked through the hallways to enjoy art on the bulletin boards, science and technology exhibits, Internet safety information, science demonstrations from the community and a display about the school’s new Masterpiece Music program.  Visitors also saw science fair projects in the multi-purpose room and Reflections art program entries in the kiva.

“We hoped it would spark an interest in those who came and participated,” Principal Julie Fielding said.  “It was a fun evening for families to enjoy this community event and embrace technology, science and the arts.”

The idea was borrowed from another school after science fair coordinator James Barron saw a STEM event.

“We’ve had science fair event for the past two years and felt like we could do something bigger.  When we learned about STEM night, we thought, ‘why not make it STEAM night and include our Reflections entries, display our Masterpiece Music program and artwork all students have done in our hallways?’” Fielding said.

Hallway science displays included a rock and mineral display and a technology table showing items from previous decades such as a Mac SE computer, cassette player, Polaroid camera and floppy disks.

Crowds gathered around, learning about cosmic rays and color diffraction from Julie Callahan, University of Utah outreach project coordinator who works with the department of physics and astronomy.

She explained about secondary colors and how stars are color signatures.  She also brought with her a 3-D pen, to illustrate how science, technology and art are tied together.

“I hope this generation of students realize how many more STEM jobs will be available for them and hope that this gives them the ‘wow’ factor and encourages their attitudes to think science is fun and want to learn more,” Callahan said.

Community volunteer Anna Ferguson was teaching students and parents alike about virtual reality by using Google Cardboard with videos.  

“It’s cool since they’re seeing what’s newly available and learning the future of technology,” she said, adding that now the New York Times is adding a new video every two weeks for people to watch.

Videos range from discovering animals to visiting historic places to watching Bode Miller ski.

Fourth-grader Brielle Buchanan said her favorite was a video that started with watching a train travel across a lake only to see the train turn into black birds.  The birds then disappeared and streamers appeared, only to introduce a baby reaching out its hand.

“It was really creative,” she said as she stood by the technology table.  “I don’t remember much of the things on the table except for the CDs and VHS tapes.  I really liked looking at the Reflections.  Everyone has so much talent, and I got to appreciate how hard they worked on their entries.”

PTA volunteer Margo Robins shared with visitors about the school’s new music program that offers specialized curriculum for each grade level.

“It begins with kindergartners being introduced to instruments and progresses to fifth-graders learning about American composers, which fits to their curriculum learning about the country,” she said.

Other grades learn about counting time, dynamics and tempo, well-known composers and Utah pioneers in music during their 45-minute lessons six times during the school year.

“The kids are learning that music isn’t just background noise, but it’s to be appreciated — and even are enjoying music more when they know the story behind it,” Robins said.

At the end, parent Amy Kirby had to encourage her kids to leave as the event was cleaning up.

“This was so much fun to celebrate our kids in school — their creativity, their curiosity,” she said.  “I love the support the school gives to foster their love of learning.”  

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