Cypress Nurtures STEM Activities

June 22, 2017 | Marilyn Jordan

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is today's updated version of the long-honored three Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic).

The inclusion of STEM skills is necessary to ensure our students will be equipped to comfortably navigate their 21st-century future. STEM helps make creators, thinkers, problem solvers, inventors and innovators. Experience at the elementary level provides the foundation for higher learning.

Cypress Adventist School in Lynnwood, Wash., had a dedicated STEM Week in April. For this special week, multigrade groups were assigned with a new daily task. Preschoolers also participated for three of the five days.

  • Monday: Oobleck Day! This is referred to as a Newtonian fluid/solid. It doesn’t follow Newton’s laws of motion. The students followed a formula to make it and then experimented with it.  Is it a liquid or solid? They then had to build something that would not sink in the oobleck.
  • Tuesday: Each group was given 100 index cards and 36 inches of masking tape. The goal — to build the tallest structure.
  • Wednesday: Once again, carefully following a recipe, students made a bubble mixture and their own bubble blowers. Bubbles ranging in size from a 4-foot-wide bubble to the teeny-tiny variety, bubbles inside bubbles, colors from colorful to transparent, and life expectancies from “pop!” to sailing over the roof of the school. Lesson learned: ingredients and proportions count!
  • Thursday: Engineering skills and accidental discoveries enable groups to create a model car out of “junk.” Requirements: roll on wheels (not provided) down an incline and remain intact (skills we can only hope they retain if they become automotive engineers).
  • Friday: This was a challenge with eagerly anticipated results, but the projected missiles caused minimal destruction. Catapults were constructed with pencils, rubber bands and a plastic spoon. The projectiles were Peeps (those tasty marshmallow candies). Conclusion: All wars should be fought with Peeps.

By the end of STEM Week, students agreed that it should be retitled FUN Week because they had so much fun learning life skills while integrating education with collaboration and patience with persistence.