By Rosemarie Chan
Photos by Julia Beiler
Second graders from North Hopewell-Winterstown Elementary came to Red Lion Area Senior High School to have a blast May 9 for the first-ever STEAM Ahead event.
After testing out aerodynamics by bouncing balls on top a giant red, yellow and blue parachute, the students rotated between activity stations run by about two dozen high school students.
They spent twenty minutes at each station to keep them engaged and excited about all the aspects of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics). “We wanted to make sure we kept them busy,” said senior intern Jacob Franciscus.
Senior high biology teacher Mrs. Laura DeLawder organized the STEAM Ahead event with assistance from Franciscus, along with funding through Red Lion Area Education Foundation’s Friends of the Foundation Grant.
“I believe that the day went very well!” said Mrs. DeLawder. “Our second-grade students were engaged and seemed to truly enjoy themselves.”
STEAM Ahead was inspired by a science experiment at home. Mrs. DeLawder and her oldest son, Bryce, were doing an experiment when Bryce said he wanted to do these types of experiments with his friends. A year ago, Mrs. DeLawder got permission to bring this idea to life, leading up to a lot of planning and help from other teachers.
Students ranging from 9th to 12th grade chose from six different stations to learn from and help the second graders.
At “Leo’s Launch” station, students worked together in pairs to use their creative minds to build a catapult with popsicle sticks and tape to launch a ping pong ball as far as possible.
“Some of the designs they came up with were pretty out there,” said junior Alex Serrano. “But they had fun experimenting. They took to it more quickly than I thought they would.”
High school students asked the second graders questions to check their understanding of physics vocabulary. “They (high school students) surpassed any of my expectations as they interacted with the second graders and passed on their passion for STEAM,” said DeLawder.
Students built circuits and made mini saucers fly at the station, “It’s Electric” where the second graders learned the fundamentals of basic electronics.
“The Math Challenge” tested logic, creativity, and skill as students raced to sum their total to twenty by combining cards of different values.
Students became mechanical engineers as they paired off to build the tallest self-standing Iggy Peck Tower challenging their creativity.
Robotics then allowed students to use logic and critical thinking to get a taste of coding at “Leo’s List” station. The students had to understand the basics of coding, so they were asked engaging questions to figure out where to go with their lebo-built robots.
Students raved about “The Art of Chemistry” station, which incorporated art and science by giving the students three rotations to experiment with test tubes in which chemicals reacted to one another.
“This is the second best day of my life,” says Tyler L., one of the second grade students. “The first was when I was born.”
Second graders watched sophomore Isaiah Morales make bubbles created with the carbon dioxide from dry ice in water. The students then created their own masterpiece with the shaving cream lab that students in the high school chemistry class do for one of their labs.
“It was nice to teach the little children something and to get them to expand their knowledge and think critically while having a good time,” sophomore Laela Thibault said. “The children had high energy and that made us more excited.”
Mrs. DeLawder hopes to continue second grade STEAM Ahead days, but with many more elementary school students participating in this experience.
“Providing joint opportunities, such as STEAM Ahead, is so important as it provides another connection for students, empowering them to know that they too can make a difference.”