STEAM Day at Aaron High School
Margaret Marotta, Head Teacher at 30th Street
STEAM Day is an annual celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. This day brings together students, educators and enthusiasts to explore, learn and engage with a variety of subjects. STEAM Day at Aaron High School serves as a platform to foster creativity, critical thinking and collaboration for students in Grades 8-12. Throughout the day, students participated in hands-on activities, tasks and challenges during their math, science and art periods that integrated various aspects of STEAM, sparking their curiosity and passion for learning.
For one engaging math activity, students embarked on a thrilling bridge-building challenge. Provided with toothpicks and mini marshmallows, they applied their mathematical knowledge to build tangible structures. The goal of the activity was to construct bridges capable of spanning a predetermined distance between two desks. Once a basic structure was in place, the real test began. The students added incremental weights to assess how much weight their bridges could support before ultimately succumbing to an imaginary “ravine” below. This experiment not only allowed students to consider mathematical principles, but also required them to incorporate engineering concepts and use problem-solving skills in a dynamic and interactive way.
During science periods, classrooms were stocked with recycled and upcycled materials as our young innovators crafted unique parachutes for an activity aptly titled “LegoMan’s Safe Descent.” The goal of this activity was to create a structure to house a Lego figurine that could float as slow as possible down to the floor when released from a stair landing above. Trash bags, filter paper, tissue paper, tape and string became the building blocks of the students’ creations. The suspense grew as each parachute was put to the test for the students who were competing for the slowest descent time. The 11th graders then took this activity one step further by replacing the Lego figurine with a raw egg and developed “’machines” to protect the egg when released from an even greater height. While some students decided to stick to parachute structures, others delved into the physics of crumple zones by incorporating packing material inside the boxes and plastic straw arrangements outside of their structures to cushion the landing.
Students also combined their art talents and engineering skills to construct marble mazes. They used cardboard box lids as their maze enclosures and plastic straws to construct the pathways for the marbles to travel through. Upon completion, students tried out each other’s mazes, carefully considering how to tilt and rotate the box lid bases to guide their marbles through the intricate labyrinths toward the maze exits.
Participating in STEAM Day activities is not just about learning concrete facts: these activities help students understand how knowledge of science, math, and art-related concepts can be combined to achieve a goal. The bridge-building activity, for example, was not solely about math – it also allowed students to exercise teamwork, creativity and abstract thinking. The lessons learned combine life skills and executive functioning practice in a way that prepares our students to be great leaders, thinkers, artists and innovators.