High school students present Spooktacular STEM Day

PHOTOS PROVIDED Kids had fun with Ghost Bubbles. In this experiment, high school students turned dry ice into gas, then used a shower hose to combine the gas with a bubble solution.

MILL HALL — My name is Kyler Lucas and I am a senior at Central Mountain High School.

For my senior project, I organized and carried out a STEM Day at Mill Hall Elementary. The day took place on Monday, Oct. 30 and was called Spooktacular STEM Day.

The idea for a STEM Day originated with the Central Mountain High School STEM Club. I have been a part of the club for three years, and every year we have wanted to organize a STEM Day for our elementary schools in the district.

The club’s original idea was to bus the students from every elementary school in our district to the middle school to have one big day of STEM activities.

This, however, is a huge task to undertake, so I suggested getting the idea off the ground with one elementary school.

High school seniors Maegan Miller, left, and Macy Akeley did science experiments with preK students, including Expanding Ghosts, Erupting Pumpkins, and Bouncy Balls.

Starting this project was a lot to take on, and I could not had done it without the help of Mrs. Rebecca Gugino, the enrichment teacher at Mill Hall Elementary; Mrs. Marcie Walizer, the STEM Club advisor at Central Mountain High School; as well as the STEM Club.

I first had to get approval from both the Mill Hall Elementary and the CMHS principals.

I then researched STEM activities that fulfilled science, technology, engineering and mathematics (the subjects STEM stands for). All of the activities were also adjusted to go along with Halloween, since the day was scheduled for Oct. 30. The activities the students moved through included: Foil Boats, Structure Building, Expanding Ghosts, Erupting Pumpkins, Flying Ghosts, and Zombie Coding.

One of the major challenges I faced was funding. At the end of September I filled out a CIU 10 grant application for $1,000. I was very confident that I was going to receive this grant and did not look for other means of funding. However, I learned two weeks before the 30th that I did not receive it. I then had to scramble to find other ways to pay for 20 STEM stations.

With the help of Mrs. Gugino, we decided to ask the parents and teachers at Mill Hall for donations, and I filled out another application, for a Keystone Central Foundation grant.

At the Structure Building Station, students had to work together to create a structure out of toothpicks and gumdrops that could hold a mini pumpkin. High school senior Karissa Lucas is at right.

With all of the extra supplies received from the teachers and parents, we created a STEM closet for the teachers at Mill Hall to hold supplies for classroom experiments.

Mill Hall Elementary has roughly 400 students, which posed a challenge with organizing schedules. In order for the students to get the most out of the day, we wanted them in groups no larger than 20. We also paired an older student with a younger student; for example, a fifth grader was paired with a kindergartner so they could help each other throughout the day.

In addition to the master schedule, I created individual schedules for each teacher and high school helper. I also created activity descriptions for each station so the high school students running the station would be familiar with what they were teaching.

I invited 37 high school students to help run the stations. Ten of them were STEM Club members and the other 17 were picked because when they graduate high school, they would like to major in a STEM field.

The day started off with an introduction assembly during which we taught the kids what STEM means and did an experiment with them to get the day going.

Students made their own bouncy balls to take home. With a group of youngsters and their balls are, from left, high school junior Micah Schal and seniors Mallory Yost and Kyler Lucas.

The students then moved through three different activities. Stations included the Foil Boat Station where students worked together to create a boat out of two pieces of aluminum foil and two feet of masking tape. The record for the most amount of pennies held in a foil boat that day was 262.

The day ended with an assembly outside where we launched three different sized pumpkins and did an experiment. The students guessed which pumpkin could be launched the farthest. Maegan Miller, Brady Eck and I built the pumpkin launcher.

When the students went back to their classrooms they each filled out a survey. At the beginning of the day, most of the students had no idea what STEM meant. After reading the surveys from the end of the day, we learned that every one of those students now knows what STEM means.

A lot of work went into planning this day, and it was very successful. The students at Mill Hall Elementary were extremely interested in what we were teaching them. The overall goal for the day was to get young students interested in the STEM field because it is their future, and I believe that we successfully completed this. My hope is that this day can continue and grow throughout the upcoming years.

I encourage everyone who is interested in STEM to join the STEM Club and continue this great experience for the young students of Keystone Central School District.

Some comments the students wrote on their surveys were:

“We got messy and had fun. We learned science. We learned not to give up the first time. If you work as a team, you can build better things.”

And, “I want to be a scientist! I LOVE science!”

In one of the thank-you letters, a student wrote, “The activities were amazing, I mean amazing!”