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STEM night offers fun, hands-on activities for students

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    “Zoltar,” aka Kimberly Zoba, asks Sophia and Evelyn Dewitt to guess how many Hershey’s Kisses are in her crystal ball during STEM night at L.B. Morris Elementary School on Tuesday night. Scan this image with the Prindeo app to see a photo gallery from the event. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS

Published November 08. 2018 12:22PM

Evan Yzzi sat at a lab table assembling Snap Circuits into a speaker for an MP3 player.

As he focused on piecing together the electrical pathways, classmates came running in and out of the room, but failed to break his focus.

“This must be interesting,” his mom, Kristy, joked as he worked. “Even likes math and science, especially more hands-on stuff.”

Snap Circuits were one of the many STEM activities available Tuesday night as L.B. Morris Elementary School held its annual family STEM night. Parents had a chance to visit their kids at school and participate in fun activities aimed at getting them more excited about science, technology, engineering and math.

The project is put together by the school’s Title I staff. It started several years ago as a math night benefiting a local animal shelter, but this year, they decided to expand the offerings and bring in some new partners.

Students got to make slime, fly paper airplanes, see 3D printers, and do other science activities. They also got to visit with real scientists — educators from the Carbon Environmental Education Center and Carbon Career and Technology Institute.

“Math is everywhere, and the kids don’t understand yet, but when they see these activities, it makes math a little more real than just sitting behind the desk doing problems,” said Kimberly Zoba, the district’s K-8 Title I math and reading coordinator.

CCTI chemistry teacher Jane Farkas gave the kids a crash course in some of the fun things you can do with chemistry — doing chromatography using a marker and a coffee filter, and showed kids buoyancy using a fishing lure suspended inside a soda bottle filled with water. While at CCTI, her students would have to explain the laws that caused the effects, but she joked with the elementary students that their love of science caused the effects.

Nearby, her colleagues from the auto service technology and precision machining technology programs offered explanations of some of the jobs which involve STEM.

Jim Thorpe is one of several schools actively participating in the Carbon-Schuylkill-Luzerne STEM Ecosystem — one of 68 such ecosystems worldwide which encourage STEM activities. That was part of the decision to add STEM to the annual math nights. The other primary school in the district, Penn-Kidder, planned to hold its event Thursday night.

“We kind of rearranged our night to a STEM night to get kids excited about STEM occupations, and what exactly STEM is and how it can be useful, and have some fun in the meantime as well,” said Brian Gasper, superintendent of Jim Thorpe Area School District.

Teachers all volunteered their time for the event. Students and their parents weren’t required to attend, but the parking lot at L.B. Morris was filled with parents’ cars.

Kerri Garner brought her children Phillip and McKayla, who also had fun with the Snap Circuits.

“They couldn’t wait to come tonight. It’s so different than when we went to school,” Garner said.


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