By: Alicia Sands Lurry
Petting a chicken. Extracting DNA from a strawberry. Flying a drone. Exploring the wonders of space. Programming sphero robots.
These were just some of the many lessons students at E. Rivers Elementary School learned last week when they participated in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Day. The daylong event was designed to expose students to the fun-filled world of science, technology, engineering, arts and math in ways they never dreamed possible.
Featuring keynote speaker Jon Cowart, NASA partner manager with the SpaceX Program, the event included nearly 30 presenters from 20 Atlanta-based organizations who spoke with students about everything from sustainability and the science behind farming and package delivery, to speech pathology and exploring stars via a mobile planetarium.
Presenting organizations included City Chicks, City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability, Chattahoochee Nature Center, UPS, Emory University, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, and Trees Atlanta, among others.
“We wanted to show kids all the ways they haven’t quite thought of as science, technology, engineering, arts and math,” said parent Annie Goode, who helped organize the event. “They’re learning how fun and exciting STEAM is and how it applies to every aspect of our lives.”
Students spent the day engaged in several hands-on activities, which included extracting strawberry DNA, making paper architectural structures, and learning about veterinary medicine and the important work the CDC does to prevent and cure diseases.
First grader Riley Sipe said his favorite part of STEAM Day was learning about space.
“It was really good and really fun,” said Riley, who learned that a baby star is bigger than an entire solar system, and that it takes more than two years to travel to and from Mars.
Riley’s sister, Ella, thought STEAM Day was just as fun.
“It’s great because so many people get to come and talk about science,” said the fourth grader, who wants to be an astronaut when she grows up. “This is hands-on, and the presentations are interesting. You always learn something new. It’s not dull, you can ask questions, and they show you experiments.”