A little bit of Salt Lake City’s science and art visited a Tooele County School last week.
Middle Canyon Elementary School held the first ever Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum’s STEAM night on Thursday from 6-8 p.m. at the school on 1000 North in Tooele City.
STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. Formerly known as STEM, the ‘A’ has been added to include the arts in programs designed to encourage students to pursue education in the arts as well as the science and technology fields, according to Jerri Sagers, Middle Canyon Elementary principal.
Middle Canyon’s STEAM night included 13 different stations featuring hands-on education experiences for students and their families. The event was open to the public.
In one workshops students used a chemical with a long name — sodium polyacrylate — to simulate snow as they learned about how snow forms and participated in a demonstration to learn about avalanches.
In another workshop students pulled apart candy bars as a visual aid to show the dynamics of plate tectonics.
They also crashed meteors — small rubber balls — into trays of hot cocoa mix to illustrate the impact of meteors.
In one classroom a father and son sat together playing a game on an iPad that teaches analytic and coding skills.
SpyHop Productions, a nonprofit youth media arts and education center, set up an interactive experience on filmmaking, graphic and game design, audio engineering, and radio and music production in the school’s library.
“This is great,” Sagers said. “It gets children and their parents involved together and gets them excited about learning. It carries over into the classroom.”
The STEAM night grew out of the inspiration of first-grade teacher Teresa Hansen.
Hansen attended a workshop on STEAM this summer and met staff from Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum.
“I thought during the workshop that they were offering to come and do something like this at our schools,” she said. “Instead when I called them they told me they meant they could put on one station at a STEAM night.”
However, Hansen said the Children’s Museum called her back and offered to organize the STEAM night for the school.
“This is like a pilot program for them,” Hansen said. “We are the very first school for them.”
The Children’s Museum reached out to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, the Natural History Museum of Utah, the Clark Planetarium, and SpyHop – Youth Media Matters, to create a collaborative effort that gives students and their families a little taste of each venue’s educational experience.
“It’s wonderful to see parents working hands-on with their children,” Hansen said. “Some students may take an interest in something they did tonight. You never know what it might inspire.”