Middle school students show off STEM projects

Eighth grader Dylan Barcomb demonstrates his marble run at the WMS open house. (Photo by Amy Porter)

WESTFIELD – Westfield Middle School hosted on open house for parents at the end of  Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) week Oct. 24.

All of the students’ projects were displayed on the tables in the cafeteria, in an atmosphere of creative chaos. There were balanced mobiles hanging from the ceiling, tubes for marble runs draped over stacks of textbooks and boxes displaying beehives with names like the “bee’s knees” and “hard rock hive.”
Kate Palmer, an eighth grade science teacher, said her class did a section on urban farming, where they engineered chicken coops, beehives and irrigation systems. She said it was great because the specialists in other subjects came in and helped with the home rooms, which focused exclusively on STEM during the week.
Palmer said the owner of founder of I2 Learning, which had given a grant to grades 5-8 for STEM week also came to visit. “They trained the teachers over the summer, and supplied all the materials,” Palmer said.
Seventh grade science teacher Matt Preye said his students focused on kinetic sculpture, including building the marble run out of random supplies. He said at the same time students learned the science behind it, and also looked at ways artists have used this movement as inspiration for their sculptures all over the world.

James Boze tries out “the beast” marble run that his daughter Fallon’s seventh grade class built, while STE Supervisor Lauren Figy and friend watch. (Photo by Amy Porter)

Eighth grader Dylan Barcomb stood beside a marble run he had made. Although he only acknowledged that it was a fun assignment with a nod, he came more to life when he demonstrated how it worked, starting at the top of the box he used, and then going inside and outside, ending by the marble knocking down a row of dominos.
Seventh grader Fallon Boze said her whole class built “the beast,” a huge marble run supported on the legs of an upside down classroom desk. Her parents James and Jennifer Boze came to the open house to try it out for themselves, after hearing about it all week. Fallon Boze said it kept growing as the days went by.
“This is really cool,” said her mom Jennifer Boze.

WMS Seventh graders Anthony Tatro and Quinn Hamilton with kinetic (moving) sculptures they built. “We got to learn about potential kinetic energy in a not boring way,” Tatro said. (Photo by Amy Porter)

Seventh graders Anthony Tatro and Quinn Hamilton created a series of kinetic sculptures, using gears to raise a flag, open a door to a building and raise the chandelier. Tatro said he missed changing classrooms and the shorter class periods during the week, but he did prefer hands-on projects.
“We got to learn about potential kinetic energy in a not boring way,” Tatro said.
Science, Engineering and Technology Supervisor Lauren Figy, who along with Math Supervisor Kate Perez, coordinated  STEM week activities in all the schools, pre-school to high school, said it went great.
“The kids were smiling in every class I went into. The teachers worked so hard. They were the reason this was such a success,” Figy said.

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