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Tropic Isles holds first STEM night

By Staff | May 2, 2013

The school cafeteria was filled with student activities, while teachers demonstrated some cool experiments in the hallways of Tropic Isles Elementary School Tuesday.

Between 300 and 400 people came in the rain to take part in the school’s first STEM night, an event designed to get children interested in the sciences at an early age.

STEM Night, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math, was created as an enhancement for the science fair it held the previous six years, according to Janet Stovall, STEM Night coordinator.

“We want to get the kids started young in those fields so they can instill a love in those areas we have a need in,” Stovall said. “We’re excited in all the kids participating in the science fair.”

Among the coolest experiments was one where a piece of soap was put into a microwave and the molecules expanded because of the heat, making the soap about 10 times the normal size.

Another activity taught mass, as kids put weights on a balanced scale so it weighed as much as a toy frog.

“They’re using gram weights to teach the mass,” said teacher Cindy Johnson. “We’re having these activities outside to pique their interest in science.”

They also had an engineering exercise where kids had to build something out of marshmallows and pieces of spaghetti, and a math area.

The event was still weighted heavily toward science, as seen in the cafeteria, where about 300 science projects were on display.

Among the most interesting was a project by third-grader Jade Caric, where she produced electricity from ordinary fruits and vegetables.

“I was searching ideas and I saw a picture that showed a lemon making a bulb light up,” Caric said. “I thought I would try it. The acid inside the fruits lights it up.”

“We didn’t think it was possible and we wanted to try it, and it does,” Jade’s dad Rade said. “It was fun.”

Among the other activities at the event was the WGCU-TV “Curious Kids” program, where employees at the station taught kids and adults the wonders of the ocean, and the Harry Chapin Food Bank was there to receive donations and get the word out about them.

Another highlight was when former student Grayson Walter presented his “Cola Explosion” experiment with Cola and Mentos candies.

Overall, it was a night where children hopefully learned that science can be fun.

“We are moving toward STEM education at a young age, so by the time they reach middle school they have a background in science,” fifth-grade teacher Rebecca Crissy said. “We start right off the bat. We want to be a leader in science and technology.”