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Clara Barton Elementary holds expansive STEAM night

On May 9, Clara Barton Elementary School held an event that was several months in the making — a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) night that attracted upwards of 200 adults and children in the district.

Students had the chance to explore ten stations throughout the school that engaged them with hands-on learning. Among many activities, students had the opportunity to learn about flight-paper airplane design, building structures, tree identification/pollination, binary coding, coding with robots, and 3D printing. Additionally, representatives from Carnegie Mellon University ran a station at the event.

Clara Barton principal Dr. Christopher Hanna gave special props to K-3 STEAM teacher Kelly Bandik and permanent substitute teacher Lynsey Brame for organizing the event. This is the second year that the school has held a STEAM night.

“You want activities here for a wide range of students. We have all the way from preschoolers to middle schoolers attending. You want to pique the interest of everybody,” said Bandik. “You want them engaged in activities, but the point of the night is to learn for 5 to 10 minutes and then move on to the next station.”

While there’s a heavy focus on reading at the early grade levels, Bandik and Brame concurred that STEAM is equally important, given how many different avenues it covers.

“It gives every learner a chance. If they don’t excel in one particular area, we find that a lot of students like that hands-on element,” said Bandik.

“It makes them look at different things from different perspectives. That’s the whole point of STEAM — looking at one problem and having multiple solutions and strengthening those critical thinking and problem-solving skills,” added Brame.

Dr. Hanna was especially proud to have representatives from Carnegie Mellon present. He’s hopeful that their presence — and the event as a whole — sparked some interest and motivation in the district’s students.

“It gives them some intrinsic motivation to say, ‘hey, I can do this,’” said. Dr. Hanna.

“It’s great outreach for the University to be able to come into our community,” added Bandik. “It gives them the mindset that anything is possible. We teach that, but we want them to see it as well.”