Science project gives North Summit Elementary students an earful
December 22, 2015
All it took for students at North Summit Elementary School to find the holiday spirit was a little bit of science.
The students recently created what they’re calling a holiday sound garden for a school-wide STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) project. They adorned a room at the school with festive décor, and used computers, wires, circuit boards and tin foil molded into shapes like animals and flowers to create interactive sound stations. When people touched the tin foil — students got to show off the garden to parents and others last Friday, as well as Monday and Tuesday — electricity signaled the computers to blast sound effects.
The project taught students about electrical circuits and gave them valuable computer skills, said Lola Beatlebrox, the school’s STEAM coordinator. The goal was to spark an interest in STEAM subjects, which are becoming increasingly important in the modern world.
"We want the kids to really love science, technology, engineering and math," she said. "And we want to nurture that love so they want to do things like science fair projects, so they want to push the envelope and really understand how the world works. This was a fun way of making that happen."
Huntin Roberts, a fourth-grader who helped create a station that had sound effects ranging from alien noises to a voice wishing people a merry Christmas, said the project was one of the most fun he’s worked on at school.
"It’s so fascinating, how electricity goes through the tin foil and the wires, and when we touch it, it makes a sound," he said. "It, like, blows my mind. It’s so cool."
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Beatlebrox said most of the other students were similarly engaged in the project. She was pleased with how much ownership they took of the sound garden. Every student, it seemed, was eager to contribute.
"This is the season of joy, and when you see that joy in the kids, that’s what’s important," she said. "They have a sense of wonder — ‘How does it work?’ They are discovering something. And once they got the original idea down, they discovered stuff on their own. Seeing that joy and seeing them learn is amazing."
Fostering collaboration was another important aspect, Beatlebrox said. Some students took on leadership roles, while others were eager to follow — and both were valuable traits for students to learn.
"When you’re in a team environment in a company, you have to be able to work with the people that are with you in order to create a project or reach a common goal," she said. "What happens in school, though, is you’re at a desk, doing your own math, doing your own writing — you’re very much alone, an individual. So these all-school projects make it so you’re relying on your classmates and they’re relying on you. The task is so big that you can’t do it all."