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West Valley City Journal

Truman students stretch creative muscles with annual STEAM night

Dec 11, 2019 03:17PM ● By Jess Nielsen Beach

A future student is fully engaged at the block-building station. (Jess N. Beach/City Journals)

By Jess Nielsen Beach | [email protected]

Truman Elementary held their annual STEAM night for students and parents on Nov. 6. With several stations catering to math, science and the arts, children from kindergarten to sixth grade were encouraged to think outside the box and extend their creative limits. 

Truman Voices, the school’s choir made up of students from fourth to sixth grade, opened the event before the PTA passed out pizza, veggies and more to keep the kids’ energy up and their minds ready to learn. 

Tiffany Schembri, the school’s technology specialist, explained the stations placed around the gym, most of which had to do with studying animals.

“The first station, Animal Texture Rubbings, is where you can see the different patterns of animal footprints and body camouflage,” Schembri said. “There is also a building station for designing habitats, a station for building mazes from toilet paper rolls and other materials, as well as Create a Creature, where students are encouraged to design their own animal.”

In addition to the animal-centered sections, there was also Make It, Move It for building cars, Build a Boat, Make it Float where children built boats for teddy bears, a block station for putting together patterns, and an adult booth where parents and teachers were encouraged to do interviews.

“We’d love the grown-ups to think about how you use STEAM in your everyday life or your job,” Schembri said. “We would then love for you to come do an interview, which will air on our news network, TNN.”

An important distinction to the night was the addition of the A in STEAM, which originally stood for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

“The general thought process is that STEAM is better than STEM because it’s including the arts,” Principal Jared Broderick said. “It started as STEM in most districts, in terms of trying to focus on technology and engineering. Other schools said that we couldn’t push out the arts, because that’s part of a well-rounded education.”

Students could choose to rotate around the stations or spend all their time in one place. One popular station was the Make It, Move It table run by fifth-grade teacher, Spencer Van Hoose.

“The objective here is for the kids to try and be creative, using different principles of what they might know about magnetism, friction, motion, to make a car move from the start of the track to the end of the track,” Van Hoose said. 

Imagination was necessary to succeed, especially with several options being possible to make the cars go down the tracks.

“Students can use the principles of attraction or repelling with magnets,” Van Hoose said. “There’s wind power; make a sail on top of the car and blow on it. A pulley system with a straw and string. As far as STEAM principles go, this applies to engineering and science and they really have to use their ingenuity.”

The event didn’t just magically come together. Truman teachers prepared for months, beginning in August, to pull off such an educational and family-friendly event, which was evident by the block-building station overrun with students’ younger siblings.

“We do two main events every year,” Broderick said. “We do a STEAM night in the fall and Literacy Night in the spring. Every teacher has a committee assignment to be on either our leadership team or our behavior-focused team. In addition to that, they need to be on one other committee, whether that is for literacy, STEAM or something else.”

The hard work paid off, as the gym was packed from 5:30 p.m. to the end of the event at 7 p.m. Students and parents can look forward to an equally great event in the spring, with the school’s annual Literacy Night.