STEM Night promotes early STEM education

Kids Need Enrichment organizes a science event at Manorhaven


Courtesy of Adrienne Saur

Manorhaven elementary school students learned about different types of insects and hold live caterpillars at the Insects and Arachnids station. Louis Sorkin from the American Museum of Natural History showed children the unique anatomy and adaptations of different species of insects.

Emily Ma, News Editor

With science, technology, engineering, and math becoming more prevalent in today’s society, many school districts, including Port Washington, have been pushing for more activities to encourage younger children to take interest in STEM subjects.

On March 19, Kids Need Enrichment organized the annual STEM Night at Manorhaven Elementary School. STEM Nights give elementary school students the opportunity to partake in various activities connected to STEM education outside a classroom setting.

Adrienne Saur, the founder of Kids Need Enrichment, developed the first STEM Night two years ago at Daly. She was inspired to create a fun and educational event for younger children after visiting various science fairs.

“After going to a couple of science and STEM-based open houses and fairs, our family thought it would be great if we could create something here in Port Washington that would engage kids and their families in different aspects of science, technology, engineering, and math,” said Saur.

In February 2015, Saur and outside organizations hosted the first STEM Night. After its success in the community, Saur expanded STEM Nights to Daly, Guggenheim, and Salem the following year. She worked with Schreiber seniors to organize and run the STEM Nights for their senior experiences.

“As word spread about our STEM-based volunteer project, it grew from 3 or 4 students to 15 who then recruited friends to help run activities at the events,” said Saur.

This year, Saur recruited Schreiber volunteers to help plan and orchestrate the STEM Nights at Manorhaven and Guggenheim. Kids Need Enrichment organized the event with help from Weber Robotics, Weber Technology, Schreiber Robotics, and the Science Museum of Long Island. In preparation for the event, student coordinators developed numerous fun, interactive stations for elementary school students.

“We spend countless hours working to create an amazing STEM Night for the children,” said senior Jonathan Lin. “We met every other Sunday to plan different stations and other logistics for the event.”

Some of the stations include tabletop hoverboards, squishy circuits, ferrofluid, dry ice, slime, paper airplanes, sound experiments, building contests, and live dissections. Most of the stations were run by two or three students volunteers. In addition, Louis Sorkin from the American Museum of Natural History brought several insects and arachnids to the event. Weber and Schreiber Robotics also demonstrated how several of their robots functioned.

“My kids loved STEM night! The slime and hover boards were huge hits and my first grader brought her projects to school the next day to show her friends,” said Ms. Ilana Engel.

Furthermore, STEM night included a group tower building contest to bring children together in a creative activity. Each group was assigned with the task of building the tallest tower they could out of spaghetti and marshmallows. The winner of the contest won tickets to the American Museum of Natural History.

Many of the stations were designed to expose children to subjects that they have not learned about in elementary school. In the singing glasses station, Schreiber volunteers taught elementary school students about the principles of physics and sounds waves. Wine glasses were filled with various volumes of water to produce different pitches. The children would then dip their finger in water and rub against the rim of the glass to create a sound.

“The best part was seeing the reaction on the children’s faces when they discovered something they never knew before,” said junior Sherry Shi.

One of the most popular stations that kept students captivated was the dissections. Both a dogfish shark and a cow’s eye were dissected, and volunteers identified the organs and structures. After the dissections were completed, children were allowed to put gloves on and touch the various organs.

“STEM Night at Manorhaven was a blast,” said Ms. Anat Gerstein. “Each station was so fun and engaging that the kids didn’t even notice they were learning in the process. The whole experience was made even better by the Schreiber High School student volunteers who were great with the younger kids. My kids are already looking forward to next year.”

At the end of the night, elementary school students walked away with slime, tabletop hoverboards, and a greater understanding of STEM topics. Both parents and students enjoyed watching the different scientific demonstrations and building structures out of marshmallows and spaghetti. STEM Night was able to unite students, teachers, and parents of the community based on their shared love of science.

“Having Schreiber students organizing and running the STEM Nights gives the events such incredible energy,” said Saur. “The elementary school kids really respond to seeing older kids working with them on STEM activities. They are terrific community building events.”

STEM Night activities were designed to inspire interest in STEM education, which is extremely important due to its implementation in nearly every aspect of life. Science, technology, engineering and math are the foundation of the technologically-dependent world we live in today. Educating children in these fields allow them to develop strong critical thinking skills necessary for development and innovation.

“STEM education is becoming more and more crucial for children everywhere,” said Lin. STEM incorporates basic technical skills we all need to survive and prosper in an ever-advancing society. It’s important for children to be ahead of the game now, so that they can better tackle their responsibilities in the future. Even though they are children now, they will be the next generation of scientists, inventors, and engineers.”