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Lighting the spark for inquiry

Students explore STEAM concepts with parents

Lowell — Bushnell Elementary School students are learning how STEAM concepts apply to everyday objects and offer hands-on fun. 

At the seventh annual STEAM Night, nearly 300 students guided more than 200 adults through hands-on exploration of the concepts they’re learning in the classroom.

Kindergartner Beckham Silva learns about inertia while using his handmade slingshot to knock down paper cups

First-grader Sterling Monceax was focused on making his Cartesian diver and learning about buoyancy. Using colored paper clips, small pieces of drinking straw and a full water bottle, Sterling carefully crafted his diver.

As he dropped the handmade diver into a full water bottle, minus one drink, he noticed the straw was floating. Then, following the instructions, he squeezed the bottle, to increase the water pressure in the straw, causing it to sink. 

“I did it!” he said, excitedly. “It’s kind of cool because in class we learned about floating and sinking, and this does both.”

Farther down the hallway, second-grader Ellorie Woolston read an explanation of aerodynamics and instructions on how to apply it to a paper airplane.

“The one I made was complicated,” she explained. “I had to fold it in a lot of different ways.”

Bushnell Elementary School Principal Erin Walters watches second-grader Ellorie Woolston launch her paper airplane

Encouraging Family Exploration

The Cartesian diver and aerodynamic planes were two of 13 science, technology, engineering, art and math stations students guided their parents through. Others included storm in a cup, snowmaking, color exploration and balloon rockets.

Principal Erin Walters walked around the school and marveled at the excitement across generations.

“As a Title I building, we are charged with targeting events throughout the year to engage directly with our school community,” Walters said. “Our STEAM night provides a time for adults and their children to have some fun, learn a little and hopefully inspire their own investigations and explorations together at home.”

Science lessons, including the concepts explored during STEAM Night, give teachers a lens to integrate lessons on vocabulary, non-fiction topics, graphing and more.

“I am a former science teacher and value the connections, investigations and spark that science and inquiry can inspire in children,” Walters said. 

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Meghan Gracy
Meghan Gracy
Meghan Gracy graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a degree in journalism, which she funded by working as a Young Fives teacher in Ann Arbor. After graduation, she worked for three years as a reporter at The Daily News in Greenville, Michigan. Her favorite part of the job was covering multiple school districts in Montcalm County. She said a hard farewell to the position in 2019 and transitioned to a career in marketing. She currently works full-time as a writer and marketing strategist at Calvin University in addition to contributing to School News Network.


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