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Park Lane STEM night offers students a chance to create, experiment

Mar 11, 2020 01:35PM ● By Julie Slama

Park Lane kindergartner Callie Leonard, with her parents and sister supporting her, makes a simple machine to carry a plastic cup during the school’s STEM night. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Park Lane kindergartner Callie Leonard said if she can make anything in the world, she’d make a paint machine.

She was one of dozens and dozens of students and families who came to the school’s STEM night, eager to try all six rotations — machine inventing, static fun, mini flashlights, rock hounding, trajectory with angry birds, and creating bobble heads with baking soda.

She, with the assistance of her dad, Eric, created a simple machine.

“I like doing this because I get to use my imagination,” Callie said.

Her mother, Crystal, and 2-year-old sibling, Madison, were nearby.

“We love participating in Park Lane’s STEM night because it is such fun and we’re strong advocates in science and technology and introduce it to our children early,” Crystal Leonard said.

This third annual STEM night, coordinated by parent volunteer Jessica Smith, is important both in the introduction of STEM activities as well as family togetherness in the community, Principal Justin Jeffery said.

“STEM promotes a fun piece of it for the kids to explore, have fun with science and technology, learn something, but it’s also an opportunity for the community to come together and families to do activities with each other,” he said.

Some, like parent Jillian Zitting of fourth-grader Alexis Bruhn, even stepped up to help.

“I love volunteering in the school, being part of the community,” she said as she oversaw families sift Utah rocks. “Jessica and her family gathered topaz, pyrite, wonder stone, apache tears and others here just for this night so every student could take some home.”

That’s what the Farrell family was doing together before they created mini flashlights.

“My son loves to build with Legos, so we thought this would provide him a spark of what other things he could learn and do with his interest,” Danielle Farrell said about her fourth-grade son, Leo.

Smith, who said her family created 175 sample bags of rocks in preparation for STEM night, said she tried to tie in all the stations to the core curriculum, such as learning about rocks and minerals in second and fourth grades and circuits and electricity in fifth grade.

“I love science and want to have the opportunity to introduce kids to different experiments — to have them know it’s not scary and to get them into a world that is fun and engaging and powerful before they may start to believe they’re not good in math and science,” she said. 

And that was just what some students were doing, going from station to station eager to learn.

Jessica Staples trailed her fourth-grade daughter, Mylee.

“She loves anything to do with STEM,” Staples said. “I call her a professional slime maker at home as she’s always making that and because she loves mixing things together to see what will happen.”

Eager to go to the next station, Mylee just stated: “I like STEM night because I love doing experiments.”

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