STEM for parents and students

Published 10:26 pm Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Kids and parents enjoyed hands-on learning together at Creekside Elementary School this week.

The school held “STEM Family Night” on Tuesday for parents and students to learn more about the science, technology, engineering and math curriculum taught in the classrooms. More than 35 parents and students participated in the hands-on activities that combined these STEM fields.

Creekside Elementary Title One Teacher Penny Napier coordinated the six classrooms that were prepared for students, each one ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade. Two or three teachers in each classroom guided the activities.

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“It’s to get children to see how STEM works together and spark interest in those areas,” Napier said.

Kindergartners built unique boats using different materials, then found out how many plastic bears they could fit in them without sinking. First graders enjoyed making “doodle bots” with pool noodles, electric tooth brushes, rubber bands and markers,

According to first grade teacher April Fantini, the activity added art to the STEM proceedings.

“It’s more like STEAM,” Fantini said.

The first graders were given only broad guidelines on how to build their “doodlebots” to encourage critical thinking and problem solving.

“We don’t want to continually give students the answers,” Fantini said. “We want them to be problem solvers.”

Second graders played an addition and subtraction game using craft sticks, and third graders made both two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes using marshmallows, toothpicks and pretzel sticks.

Suffolk resident Essie Gutierrez brought her third-grade son Marcus. She said that it was a great opportunity for parents to spend time with their kids and inspire them to learn.

“Kids emulate their parents, and if the parents think the learning is fun, the kids will think it’s fun,’ she said.

The activities are also designed to teach the parents more about what they’re children are learning in STEM classes. These parents learned with their kids while having fun.

“It helped me learn what the shapes are and how to build them,” 9-year-old Marcus said.

Creekside Elementary regularly organizes events throughout the year as part of the Title 1 requirement of encouraging parent involvement in their child’s education, Napier said.

This is the first such activity based on STEM.

“I think it’s a really creative way to teach STEM to young children,” said Suffolk resident Stacy Wilson.

The hope was to get parents involved in the curriculum of their children, specifically the STEM fields that lead to the careers that define the future, Napier said. She also hoped that parents and students would go home and spread the word for a bigger turnout next year.

“We hope the word will get out, and more will come next year,” she said.