Foster Elementary School students and their parents worked together, using common household items to create and test science-themed devices during the school’s annual science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) night on Jan. 31.
Foster Elementary families made prototype asteroids out of clay, launched marshmallows from a catapult, blew up balloons inside a plastic water bottle and created spacecrafts out of paper cups and aluminum foil.
“The interaction here is neat; I love being able to learn alongside my son,” said Foster Elementary parent Eric Vazquez, whose son Xavier is in first grade. “Every project teaches you about science and it’s fun because the students get to use their creativity.”
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow Katy Wimberly and UC Irvine graduate physics student Arianna Brown worked with Foster students to create the asteroids using clay, rocks and glass to demonstrate how the solar system was formed.
“This hands-on exercise allows the students to examine space materials that we cannot touch,” Wimberly said. “The students love it because they can create any type of asteroid they want – there are no wrong answers and it’s a great way to introduce children to astronomy.”
A group of Foster Elementary sixth-graders helped younger students design and build rocket landers out of cardboard boxes, popsicle sticks and marshmallows, challenging students to create one that holds a ping pong ball in its cabin after being dropped from the air.
“There is a lot of trial and error in STEAM activities and you get to use your creativity,” Foster Elementary sixth-grader Niya Herrera said. “You don’t always get it right the first time, but you keep going, and it makes you feel happy when you get it right.”
This is the fourth year that Foster Elementary has hosted a family STEAM night, combining STEM subjects with art to encourage problem-based learning.
STEAM opportunities continue at the middle school level, where students have access to Project Lead the Way courses that include subjects like robotics and coding.
“It is a pleasure to see our elementary students develop an interest in STEAM fields, and even more rewarding when you see them share their knowledge with their parents and families,” Superintendent Dr. Froilan N. Mendoza said.