By Sidra Miller
One evening at the Vernon Area Public Library, young minds gathered for an exciting and educational event. The Lincolnshire, Illinois Chapter of JUSTEMagine hosted its first-ever STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) Night to inspire and engage elementary students from grades 1 through 6. The event featured various stimulating activities, including shaving cream art, flower dissection, and an introduction to coding. The turnout was impressive, with 10 to 15 enthusiastic children attending the event and staying engaged for the entire two-hour duration.
The primary objective of the STEAM Night was to spark curiosity and foster a love for learning among elementary school kids. To achieve this, the organizers carefully curated a selection of hands-on activities that combined elements of art, science, and technology. The children were divided into groups, each embarking on a unique and exciting journey through STEAM. Art and science intertwined as the young participants experimented with vibrant colors and patterns using shaving cream. Through this activity, they learned about color mixing, surface tension, and the chemical properties of the materials they were using.
They used food coloring on paper, creating a marble effect of multiple colors. Another activity they did was flower dissection; the children delved into the intricate structures of flowers. Guided by knowledgeable facilitators, they observed and explored the different parts of the flowers, such as petals, stamens, and pistils. This hands-on experience allowed them to grasp the basics of botany and understand the crucial role of each flower component in the process of pollination and reproduction. Lastly, they participated in coding. In the digital age, coding has become a vital skill, and the organizers didn't miss the opportunity to introduce it to young minds. The children were introduced to basic HTML coding concepts. They learned how to code a simple tag, learned examples of what metadata is, and learned what each specific part of a tag does and what it means.
Considering it was the first STEAM night hosted by Lincolnshire, the turnout and engagement of the young participants were exceptionally promising. The success of this event has motivated the organizers to continue their efforts in promoting STEAM education among children. Lincolnshire is actively exploring the idea of hosting another STEAM night later this month, aiming to reach even more young minds in the community. Additionally, there are plans to organize a hackathon for older students above grade 9, offering them a challenging and competitive environment to apply their knowledge and skills in technology and programming. Furthermore, they are keen on forming partnerships with local elementary schools to establish a consistent weekly schedule for teaching students about various STEM activities. By integrating STEAM education into the regular curriculum, the library aims to supplement and enhance the learning experiences of young students throughout the academic year.