By Lynne Phillips
Exciting, interesting and fun described a recently held STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) event, according to New London Elementary School Principal Amanda Accavallo.
Kindergarten through grade five students were able to experience numerous hands-on activities at the mobile STEAM Museum.
“Kids really enjoyed this,” Accavallo said. “We have started a ‘Maker Space’ this year and this really made a nice connection to that.”
The Maker Space is an area devoted to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities, allowing students to build and create. The space focusing on STEM also fosters creativity, collaboration and critical thinking skills, according to Accavallo. “What was great about this (STEAM Museum) is that it built on what they are already doing in school.” She noted the robotics pieces are something they don’t have in the Maker Space yet, so that served as an introduction for our kids. It was really fun to see all of their excitement.”
At Build-an-Arch students used large foam blocks to learn how the structure functions and see how the Romans used it in their buildings and how the design was used in the St. Louis Gateway Arch.
Gears showed the transmission of power from one part of a machine to another.
Astate-of-the-art 3Dimensional printer allowed students to watch as it created a 3D model while it was visible on a computer monitor to show different objects that can be made. “A 3D printer is another component we will be adding to our Maker Space,” Accavallo explained.
Mix-and-match four different rollers, each with their own textures, with four different lanes lined with their own texture to see which textures create the most friction.
A humanoid robot in action helped to spark the imaginations of students and left them anxious to create their robots.
Programmable robots, one similar to the NASA Discovery robot being used to explore the surface of Mars let visitors learn step-by-step programming. The second robot, was an advanced line-tracking robot that responded to color. Colored markers were used to draw a path for the robot to follow. Different colored lines caused the robot to change the color of its light and even behave differently.
“The robot portion of the program was of great interest to the kids,” Accavallo commented. The robot, named NAO (now) introduced himself and showed his range of human-like abilities and had students join in for a group workout/ dance.
The use of triangles demonstrated how to distribute weight in order to build a skyscraper or a strong bridge.
A generator powered by a bicycle turned kid-energy into a brilliant light display. All that was needed to create the light show was a kid, a bicycle and lots of pedal power. As students pedaled the bike they converted their kinetic (change of motion produced by force) energy into electricity, by first lighting up low-power LED lights until they created enough energy to power the halogen lights at the top of a tower.
A Newton’s Cradle exhibit helped students to understand Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of motion.