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Valley Journals

Elementary students drop eggs, make slime creations at STEM festival

May 08, 2017 03:47PM ● By Aspen Perry

The Imagination imagination playground playground student’s helped exercise student’s d engineering and architecture skills. (Aspen Perry/City Journals).

By Aspen Perry  |  a.perry@mycityjournals.com

The halls of Central Park Community Center were filled with laughter as elementary students from the Promise South Salt Lake afterschool programs engaged in STEM- (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) influenced activities during the third annual STEM Fest on April 7.

In one hallway of the Central Park Community Center, learning came to life as students worked in teams to create a safe carrier for the egg drop challenge. 

“It’s interesting to watch the way they think and how they put it all together,” said Melanie Lance, a first-time STEM Fest volunteer and a paramedic with South Salt Lake Fire Department.

Student enthusiasm grew as they were ushered outside to see which group’s egg carriers would work successfully after being dropped from the top of a fire truck’s ladder.

As the firefighters gathered the carriers, students excitedly chanted, “throw it, throw it” from below, followed by claps as their carriers smashed into the ground.

“I think in the last group there were two out of 10 (eggs) that survived,” said Lance.

Back inside, the gymnasium of Central Park Community Center was divided into two sides. The imagination playground where giant blocks filled one side of the gymnasium, encouraged students with hands-on engineering-themed experiences.

“This was my idea,” said one boy, as he rushed from one connection point to another. He and the other students tried to build a bridge-type structure that would allow a ball to flow through from start to finish.

In addition to providing hands-on engineering and architecture skill building, students in imagination playground could also try to recreate neighborhoods.

As Brandis Stockman, Lincoln Elementary coordinator, explained the City of South Salt Lake provided aerial photographs for students to recreate small versions of their neighborhoods. 

On the other side of the gymnasium, University of Utah volunteers helped the students make their own slime creations, a favorite amongst the students.

The

kids noticed the food coloring they had mixed into their slime was dyeing their hands.

“My favorite part of the STEM Fest is seeing students get excited about STEM subjects and seeing the impact this exposure can make in their lives,” Stockman said.

In another large room, The American Chemical Society held a presentation, complete with experiments related to food science.

Though the preference is to hold the STEM Fest outdoors when weather permits, the Central Park Community Center was well utilized by the elementary afterschool programs including Lincoln, Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Moss, and Kearns-Saint Ann, as well as four community center-based afterschool programs including Hser Ner Moo Community and Welcome Center, Central Park Community Center, Historic Scott School, and Meadowbrook STEM in attendance.

“At STEM Fest this year, we had about 200 students,” said Stockman.

Luckily, there were many volunteers to help with the event from various areas in the community including; Promise SSL staff, City of South Salt Lake employees, SSL Firefighters, and community volunteers.

Before STEM Fest was created, there were no other STEM-themed events for South Salt Lake elementary-aged children, as all STEM-themed events in South Salt Lake were geared toward older students prior to STEM Fest’s inception.

Exposing students to STEM events early in their life, also meets the criteria from Promise SSL, Cradle to Career Pipeline, in an effort to fulfill the education aspect of the three promises at the foundation of all Promise SSL programs.

Stockman explained why Promise SSL felt holding an event for elementary students was so important, as she said, “STEM (activities) are a very hands-on way of showing students how fun and interesting these subjects can be.”

Stockman added, “When students get inspired at such a young age, this can lead to a lifelong love for science and STEM-based careers.”