By Suzie Vail
Spring is finally here and along with the sprouting daffodils and tulips, elementary school science fairs also have become a sure sign of the season. But at the Thomas Jefferson School, it’s not just your typical Science Fair. It’s a S.T.E.M. Night!
On March 26, 2014, a team of faculty transformed the TJ school into a full-scale science center. The students had hands-on experiences in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math for the third annual S.T.E.M. Night.
“Stem was created because I felt the traditional science fair did to meet the needs of the students or match my program,” said Gabrielle Meyer, TJ’s science teacher.
“I wanted to create an event that was hands-on and explored the different aspects of science. I wanted the kids to learn and explore just as they do in class.”
About 300 students, their parents and many of TJ’s faculty attended STEM Night. The gym which housed the “Science Station” was filled with more than 150 projects made by students.
Mrs. Meyer said all the projects this year were “fantastic.” Through an organized scavenger hunt, students explored projects ranging from experiments on paper towels to building motors and researching puffins. Even the subjects of curve balls and baseball bats were explored.
The students rotated throughout the numerous stations, experiencing first-hand games, experiments and project-based engineering.
“Each engineering station requires teamwork, design and redesign to achieve success,” said Meyer.
Students even had a chance to make “goo” at the BASF station.
BASF, the largest chemical company in the world has been part of STEM Night for the past three years.
“Fostering a love of science at this young age is crucial and I was excited to see that almost 90 percent of the students attended this exciting event,” said TJ Principal Cristina Frazzano.
Meyer said her goal was to inspire kids to return next year with more great inventions.
“When students leave with their special STEM ribbons, and sense of pride from their projects, I would love for them to say, ‘Wow, that was great I can’t wait until next year,’” said Meyer. “I believe making fantastic memories and challenging minds can go hand in hand.”
Suzie Vail is a member of the Thomas Jefferson Parent Teacher Organization.