Daly STEM Night promotes early STEM education: Schreiber and Weber students exhibit interactive presentations to elementary students

Madeline Fagen, News Editor

 

Although recent findings publicized by the National Math and Science Initiative suggest a dearth of STEM education in the United States, Port Washington’s interest in and dedication to STEM education is thriving.  On Feb. 10, Daly Elementary School held a STEM night to promote education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“The goals of this event were to have Daly families come together with fun STEM-related activities, allow happy, engaged students who love learning about and doing STEM to be further exposed to the field, and make parents feel involved with their children and Daly,” said Ms. Adrienne Saur, AGATE co-president and event coordinator.

Planning for the event began in the early fall with outreach to Schreiber and Weber clubs and organizations, Daly parents, and outside organizations to find people who were interested in sharing their knowledge of STEM.

“I had reached out to the different Schreiber groups that were involved with STEM,” said Ms. Saur. “Mr. Schaefer volunteered the Robotics Club and 3D printing class, while Ms. Gallagher said that the math research students were excited about participating.”

Schreiber students were excited to participate to help introduce elementary school students to STEM and help them understand the field.

“Elementary school students are only just beginning to learn the core concepts they need to be successful in STEM, and it is easy to become disillusioned if you can’t see the important and fascinating ideas that these basic concepts can unlock,” said senior math research student Chris Wilson.

The evening was designed to be like a science fair or exposition where attendees could wander around at their own pace to check out different stations.

A wide variety of stations were present at Daly’s STEM Night.  The NY Paleontological Society came with an Apatosaurus vertabrae, a cave bear scapula, and other fossils as well as some free fossils for students to take home including shark teeth and dinosaur bone fragments. The NY Entomological Society brought live and preserved insects and arachnids, including tarantulas, scorpions, black widow spiders, Manduca caterpillars, and Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches. They additionally handed out protein bars and chocolate chip cookies made with crickets and roasted mealworms.  The Weber Technology Department recruited 30 middle school students to let attendees record green screen videos, race air powered dragster cars, launch straw rockets, and design the slowest roller coasters possible.  Daly parents had stations on orthopaedics, the human digestive system, paper airplane construction, water conservation, and building structures out of marshmallows, toothpicks, and spaghetti.

Various Schreiber clubs and classes were also represented at the event. The Robotics Club brought one of its robots which they let attendees control.

“I presented some demos of a lego mindstorm robot,” said junior math research student  Asena Ulug.  “The kids seemed to enjoy playing with the robot and some even wrote a program to make the robot do different things.”

Junior math research students presented some of their research and did math puzzles and experiments with attendees.

“We had dry ice, showed them what it did, how it interacted with water, and explained the concept of sublimating solids,” said Wilson. “The general impression I got was that they thought it was cool, and they had a lot of fun playing with the substance.”

Schreiber’s 3D printing students brought samples of their work on display and explained the 3D printing process.

Students and parents were intrigued by the presentations made by Schreiber students and individuals from outside organizations.

“STEM Night was just amazing,” said parent Ms. Tonya Romero.  “From seeing a 3D printer in action to controlling a robot to racing cars, every area opened the eyes of my children to something different.  It was a night they still enjoy talking about and relate to their everyday lives. We can’t wait to be part of it again.”

Those involved hope to make Daly’s STEM Night an annual event in which Schreiber students can participate.

“We’re talking to the other elementary schools about making it a district-wide event next year and hope that more students from Schreiber will present,” said Ms. Saur.  “Seeing older students’ passion for STEM and sharing their knowledge is one of the best ways to get younger students excited.”