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Sandy Journal

Interactive STEM activities welcome back, engage Brookwood, Park Lane families

May 30, 2022 05:08PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

“Science is great; it runs the world.”

Brookwood Elementary parent Evan Jamison said that as his six-year-olds were creating a marble run in the school’s multipurpose room during STEM night.

“This night is full of building block activities which will help build their interest in science and be a foundation they can use in their later life,” he said. “We do experiments at home—grow crystals, geode hunting and talk about minerals and make plenty of slime—but these are expanding their knowledge and interest.”

“And it’s fun,” said Charley, who along with her first-grade twin sister, Nora, had already driven a Brighton High robot, commanding it to place rubber ducks to the opposite side of the arena.

That was the purpose of both Brookwood’s and Park Lane’s STEM nights, to welcome back families into schools after not being allowed in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic and to engage them in educational opportunities.

“This gives families an opportunity to see what their kids are learning,” said Julie Clark, Brookwood PTA STEM night organizer and retired teacher. “I love math, and this gives us a community night to show the kids how exciting and fun the sciences are.”

At Brookwood, Clark worked with other teachers to host an activity for each area of STEM. There were science experiments, math races, coding, robotics and marble roller coasters.

Volunteer Kenzi Jones was helping students with a surface tension experiment.

“This is a great program that makes kids excited about learning,” she said. “It’s been a rush all night. We’ve had a great turnout.”

Ashley Theodore brought three kids who were trying out the experiment. They had just finished coding a Disney “Moana” activity as well as making a furball move spaces.

“It was really cool,” Theodore said. “I didn’t know the coding game, but I like the idea of hands-on activities here. It gives the kids a great opportunity to see what is available in the world of STEM and to have fun with it.”

Her third-grader Ansel added: “It’s been fun, and you get to do special stuff tonight.”

Getting to do “special stuff” also was the case at Park Lane, where more than 100 students and their families could float a ping pong ball with a straw and cup or a beach ball with a leaf blower. They also could blast off Alka-Seltzer robots and try cup stacking together with bungee cords.

Those and other activities, including a take-home fish in a bowl optical illusion activity, were coordinated by parent Jessica Smith.

Of all the opportunities, Principal Justin Jeffery said he had a favorite. He appreciated learning about static charge using Mylar tinsel and a PVC pipe.

“We just took three strands, cut them in half and tied them together,” he said, then placed a PVC pipe underneath. “They get an electrical charge front the PVC pipe, so it looks like they’re floating in air, like magic. In fact, we had a kid pretending he was Harry Potter making magic with the charm wingardium leviosa; it was cool. I had never seen it and it’s really simple. There were some other cool ones too.”

At both events, Code Ninjas hosted activities for students as well.

Through the years, Park Lane has offered several different STEM activities from programming a robotic arm to balloon rockets. A popular station has been the Angry Birds slingshot where students try to tumble over the entire stack of cardboard boxes.

“We do this so our kids get excited about any kind of technology and science and see what’s possible,” Jeffery said. “They’re discovering how science is essential in every part of their lives.”