ELSMERE — Those who attend STEM Night at All Saints Catholic School on April 27 may notice some differences from last year’s version. The multi-parish school is incorporating religion and the arts into the event, reflecting its new focus on turning STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — into STREAM, adding religion and the arts.
The theme this year is “patterns,” incorporating symmetry, radial relief structures, puzzles and other things that include them, including Mass. Students have been hard at work getting ready to turn All Saints into a STREAM zone.
Second-grade student Brayden Gryan said his class will display pictures that include symmetrical patterns and their names. His teacher, Nancy Raymond, explained that each student had to count out the number of grids in order to make their sketches symmetrical, which Brayden enjoyed.
“I made a pink flower with balloons in the middle with some purple,” he said. “In art class, the teacher timed us to see how many we could get. It was really fun.”
He said he learned “that lots of things look better if it’s the same on the one side as the other.”
His classmate, Aubrie Nowak, demonstrated an experiment the second grade will do with Skittles soaking in water.
“You line them up at the edge of the plate, and it makes swirl colors. It’s really cool. The color goes out of the Skittles and into the water. It looks like paint,” she said.
In the third grade, Brianna Tokarski explained the work they are doing on radial symmetry, which means “it comes from the middle and spreads out.” Students worked on a four-, six- or eight-point design, designing a mandala, which is a schematic representation characterized by “a concentric configuration of geometric shapes,” according to dictionary.com.
“First we colored mandalas,” Brianna said. “Next, we designed our own mandalas. Then we designed and constructed radial relief structures.”
The class also made mandala puzzles, Cece Costanzo explained. They glued their designs onto paper plates, then cut the plates into pieces shaped like pizza slices.
“On STEM Night, kids can make their own designs out of our pieces,” she said.
Sewing to Fibonacci
There is much activity going on in the middle school as well. Students in sixth through eighth grade are taking STEM electives, and their projects will be on display. A group of students is sewing, including four boys. Two of them, Tommy Rutz and Jake Harris, are working on pillows.
Tommy’s is a Villanova University pillow. Both of his parents attended the school, and his bedroom at home is a tribute to the Wildcats. In the class, the students learned about various sewing techniques, threading and patterns. They have been taught how to start and stop, and how to get the design they want, such as his white block “V” on the navy blue background.
“I kind of thought it would be a laid-back class, and it kind of is, but it’s also getting work done. But it’s really relaxing and easy to go in there and just do it,” he said.
Jake is also working on a pillow, but his is red and, when it is finished, will sport Michael Jordan’s Nike logo. He said he and Tommy were the only boys in the first sewing class, but four are in the current section. The sewing class proved to be very popular.
“It feels good to sew. It’s relaxing and it’s enjoyable. It’s cool to learn the different ways you can do it,” he said.
“I figured my grandmom would say why are you doing sewing when you could be doing a whole bunch of other stuff. But after she sees it, I think she’ll be impressed.”
Both boys said the elective involves STEM principles like math, and patterns obviously are a big part of their projects.
Another elective, the one Anthony D’Arcangelo is doing, involves designing automobiles. The students are using a computer application called Wind Tunnel to help them figure out the best aerodynamics for their cars. Anthony said the students came up with designs, tested them with the app, then created them out of clay in school and baked them at home. The models will be painted for STEM Night.
“We’re going to put everything on display from all of our STEM class, and we’re going to have the parents vote on who has the best car and the best engine model,” he said.
Anthony said he has learned that designing an automobile is “actually hard. It probably took me about 20 times to get a good calculation of numbers. It’s all about the aerodynamics and the curves and shapes in the cars that can throw everything off.”
Sixth-grade student Emily Hoard is not designing cars or sewing. Her group is working on spiral patterns found in nature, such as on shells or flower petals, that can be measured by Fibonacci numbers, named after 13th-century Italian mathematician Leonardo Pisano, whose nickname was “Fibonacci.”
“We’re going to explain what the Fibonacci sequence is, and the pattern.” Emily said. “It’s kind of confusing. I didn’t understand it at first.”
Another group of middle-school students is working religion into STEM Night by producing several iMovies explaining parts of the Mass.
Aubrie, the second-grader who demonstrated the Skittles experiment, summed up the feeling around All Saints about this annual event.
“We get to do a lot of neat things. I like STEM Night.”