‘STEM ROCKS’ night entices students to look forward to advancing education

Karen Lovett Wearing his favorite Christmas present, a NASA spacesuit, Minter Creek Elementary School first-grader Ezra Kuhn-Wilken proudly displays the rocket he created for the STEM night at his school. Photo by Hugh McMillan, KP News

STEM may stand for Science Technology Engineering Math, but Minter Creek Elementary School students got to touch and experience future educational possibilities during the mind stimulating “STEM ROCKS” evening, sponsored by the school’s PTA.

The school opened its doors the evening of Thursday, Jan. 14, inviting students to explore with a barrage of hands-on participation.

“We have been doing this for five or six years,” Minter Creek School principal Ty Robuck said. “PTA president Maria Kusche brought in the shipyard last year.”

One event, the Bridge Buster, used a weight stress test to break wood stick bridges. A crowd of people gathered to watch the mechanical weight press pound student-created bridges to the breaking point.

Brianna Murphy and Sidney Van Scoyk, from Mrs. Seversons fifth-grade class, built a bridge that broke at 51 pounds of pressure. “Its fun hanging out with friends learning math and science,” Murphy said.

“This events great,” Mike Lupro said. His grandchildren, fifth-grader Nevaeh Bradley and second-grader Miliah Waisanen were participating this year. “I thought Miliahs bridge would do better. Wed have built it different if wed known how the stress test would work,” Lupro said.

Chief of pediatrics at the Naval Hospital Bremerton, Beverly Glauber, was chairman of the STEM committee.

The hospital was invited to come to educate students about first aid. They have done it with other schools. A nurse asked participants how they would bandage particular injuries and allowed them to do it. Then she followed up to demonstrate correctly. Students were also shown how to make first aid kits.

Students from Key Peninsula Middle School built simple rockets on site. Rocket launchers blasted them toward the gym ceiling.

“Ive been making rockets almost since the start of the year,” Alyssa Garcia said. “Mr. Miller is our teacher. Weve been working on Arduinos, tiny mini computers. We are trying to program launching rockets. The rockets are made out of card stock and duct tape.”

Small robots tracked across the floor, more of Mr. Millers KPMS students were in control. “Its pretty fun to do,” Frankie Kelley said.

Harbor WildWatch program coordinator Rachel Easton brought animal skulls to challenge identification skill. She described how a particular animal lived and asked the students to identify which skull belonged to the creature she was describing. Mink, raccoon, both river and sea otters, skunk, deer, sea lion, harbor seal, coyote, black bear, cougar, beaver, bobcat, muskrat, bald eagle and house cat were species displayed.

Skills of telling time and drawing a clock face were useful in this digital age. A simple but difficult problem was to guess how many candies filled two-quart jars. The Price is Right booth gave the younger generation the chance to test their shopping prowess by matching shopping prices to items.

Are cards glued together stronger than unglued cards? The Glue is the Clue station gave students the opportunity to find out.

How much sugar is in different kinds of foods or drinks? The answers were surprising.

Puget Sound Navy Museum in Bremerton and the Naval Undersea Museum in Bangor were represented by Carolyn Lane and Valerie Johnson comparing robots to machines.

Seven small plastic three-dimensional shapes and large cardboard box replicas posed a challenge to create a Soma block cube puzzle. That was a creative concept to use spacial relationships, they said.

Puget Sound Naval Shipyard was very involved with a number of the demonstrations and hands-on activities. There was something for everybody, from high and low frequency soundwaves with spouting bowls, elastic reactions to frequency, aluminum foil boats carrying metal washers, water tension, robots and puzzles.

Stamps at each station were used to fill the 26 space passport. Each Minter Creek student turning in a passport at the end received a prize funded through the Federal Title One Program as part of Minter Creeks Parent Involvement Plan.

“STEM night had a great turnout this year,” teacher Alice Kinerk said. “There were a great variety of new games and interesting things to see. Most importantly, students had fun and learned something, too.”