MANTI—Parents and students attended Manti Elementary School’s first-ever STEM Night on Monday, April 26.
Students got a chance to show their parents what activities they do as part of the STEM curriculum at Manti Elementary. STEM is a national initiative that encourages schools to emphasize science, technology, engineering and math, areas where there are shortages of workers.
“The whole country is crying out for people to do computer science,” said Julia Bratton, STEM coordinator for Manti Elementary School, which has been officially involved in STEM for two years.
The STEM program is designed to harness creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication within the four disciplines. The goal is to “help kids prepare for the future and get them interested in STEM fields,” Bratton said.
STEM Night was staged in conjunction with Sanpete County 4-H. Activities were set up at stations in the school’s gym, library, art room and outdoor blacktop areas.
4-H provided activities that involved problem solving, such as a slime station and a hydrophobic sand station, while the school arranged activities that involved computational thinking, such as Go Mouse and bottle rockets.
At the slime station, participants mixed two ingredients in a paper cup, which together made slime. The slime was available in a bright orange or blue.
Hydrophobic sand is a sand coated in a kind of plastic that kept it from getting wet when water was added. Students could take the sand out of the water, and it was dry in their hands.
Go Mouse is a game even young children can play, where they build a path for an electronic mouse to follow. They program it to follow the path by pressing buttons on the mouse, which tell it in what order to go right, left or straight.
A Magnatiles station featured clear, colorful blocks that connect with magnets on their sides. Students who worked with the blocks, such as Jersee and Krew Cox, who are siblings, were quick to build structures, such as a castle. The Coxes play with Magnatiles every three weeks during the school day.
“It’s really rewarding to see my kids at an event like this,” said Michelle Howell, a mother who also works at Manti Elementary. “It helps to narrow down what they like to do.”
Shanna Petersen, who is also a mother and an employee at Manti Elementary, agreed. “My son is a social butterfly and coming to an event like this—he will get excited to do things when he sees what his friends are doing.”
“It is great for parents and students to learn together,” Bratton said. “Parents can encourage kids towards their interests and goals.”