ELSMERE – “Energy” was the theme of the night on April 7, when All Saints Catholic School presented STEM Night,” and the students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade were full of energy in the hours leading up to the event.
Each of the grade levels – primary, elementary and middle – took over a floor of the school to show off an energy-related topic, a focus of the science, technology, engineering and math curriculum that is front and center at All Saints. Nancy Raymond, a second-grade teacher, said the primary grades concentrated on light. The kindergarteners, for example, created prisms, while the second grade used the sun’s rays to print objects from nature on to dark paper.
“The children went around and found objects in nature, and they put them on top of the paper. Then we used the light and energy from the sun to bleach out the objects,” Raymond said.
In their classroom, the second grade also hung a mobile that featured different sources of light, such as candles, stars, the sun, a flashlight, the moon and light bulbs.
“It can help you see, and it keeps plants and animals alive,” Jacob Morris said about the light sources.
His classmate, Cecelia Costanzo, said STEM subjects are very important.
“It helps me learn all this stuff, and that’s how I got to be in second grade and learn all this cool stuff,” she said. “We will show our parents everything we’ve done.”
On the second floor of the school, the elementary grades had set up demonstrations on different forms of energy, including solar, win and water. There was a waterwheel and wind-powered cars, among other objects.
Diane Cathcart, a third-grade teacher, said the students had been working on their projects for about a month.
“In third grade, we’re using alternative energy,” she said. “Fourth and fifth grade might be using other kinds of energy. We decided to use alternative energy so they could see other ways to make things powered.
“We’re trying to teach them that there are other things you can use to make power besides electricity so they can learn about the future.”
Gabrielle MacKrell, one of Cathcart’s students, said she doesn’t get tired of the STEM curriculum “because it’s fun to do projects. We do books and computers, but I like STEM a lot because it’s fun to make projects with people.”
In the basement, grades six through eight demonstrated fossil, solar and wind energy; electricity models; wind turbines; and sports analytics with baseball, volleyball and basketball examples. Their projects were a bit more in-depth, said Lori Watts, who teaches sixth grade.
“One of the things that the middle-schoolers did was create solar panels out of sheets of copper. We burned sheets of copper in the science lab to char them to get an electrical charge, lightly sanded them, and used a container of hot water and salt, put a copper sheet in the container, attached electrodes and used a multi-reader to check for electricity,” Watts said.
Alexa DeClemente, an eighth-grader, said students learn more when the topics are presented in a visual manner instead of just in words from a book or computer. Watts agreed.
They need to be up and moving around and having fun with science,” she said. “That’s the whole point of why we have a STEM night, why we’re a STEM school. For future generations, we want there to be more students interested in science and helping out our environment in a positive way.”