SEARCY Students at two Searcy elementary schools participated in Thanksgiving STEM Days to learn more about the principles of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Westside Elementary School hosted a Bring a Pirate to Thanksgiving project Nov. 15. Second-grade students, and teachers, dressed as pirates and participated in several activities as the students learned about weight, coding, distance, speed and height.
“We actually called it ‘Bring a Pirate to Planksgiving,’” said Jackie Starks, assistant principal, laughing. “Before I took this job as assistant principal this year, I was a math facilitator and instructional coach at McRae Elementary School and did these kinds of projects there. I had STEM experience and wanted to be able to do the same kind of projects at Westside.
“It was an awesome day,” Starks said. “It was a lot of fun. The kids, teachers and parents who came to watch all loved it.
“The scenario was, ‘you are a pirate on your way to Grandma’s house for Planksgiving, and you face challenges along the way.’ The first challenge was ‘Cross the Creek.’ The bridge is out, and you have to find a way to cross by building a boat. The students used aluminum foil to build a boat and put pennies on it to see how much weight it could hold before it would sink.
“We used the engineering design process for all of the challenges,” she said. “The students had to make a plan for a design, build it, test it, record it and revise it until until they could do it better.”
Starks said the “most fun” station was the “reverse engineering” station.
“We went to the recycling center and brought in old electronics like computers and TVs,” she said. “The students took a screwdriver and took them apart. They loved it.”
Starks said Pam Allen, math instructional specialist at the Wilbur D. Mills Education Service Cooperative, attended the event and helped with some of the projects.
Sidney Deener Elementary School hosted a second-grade STEM Day on Nov. 16. Students participated in various activities related to science, technology engineering and mathematics. They created sails for sailboats, worked on computer coding, made candy pumpkin catapults, engaged in 3-D printing projects and made “sink or float” boats.
Megan Hunt, STEM coordinator at Deener Elementary School, said the day’s program was a way to get students interested in STEM subjects.
“Studies show that the earlier you introduce a student to STEM, the better chance there is of that student pursing a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics,” Hunt said. “We chose to use a Thanksgiving theme for our activities, which were done in teams or in groups. Working together, cooperating as groups, is part of STEM. The students are keeping journals as well, writing down how they try things, if it works or not and how they have to revise it until it does work.”
Students in Amy Clay’s second-grade class were seen building catapults, which were used to throw a candy pumpkin, trying to determine which team could throw the pumpkin the longest distance. The students used tongue depressors, plastic spoons and rubber bands to build the catapults.
Kristi Smith, math coordinator at McRae Elementary School, and Ben Carrigan, science instruction specialist at the Harding University Finley STEM Center, assisted students at the Pumpkin Catapult Station.
“This is an exciting project for our students to experience and for their families to see what they are learning in the STEM area,” said Caroline Nail, principal at Deener Elementary School. She said all parents were invited to the day’s special activities.
“It is also great to see the community support us,” Nail said. “We are so lucky to have Harding University willing to help us.
“We have a lot to be thankful for here at Deener. We are blessed.”