GERING — Geil Elementary students enjoyed a unique day of learning April 22 during the school’s first STEM day.
Community members came into the school to share their expertise on various science, technology, engineering and math topics. The students traveled around the building as they decided which activities to participate in that targeted STEM concepts.
The STEM day was created as a result of teachers implementing enrichment activities during target time, which is similar to WIN time at other schools. Those periods are special instruction periods where students can get additional instruction in subjects where they are struggling.
“This year at target time, some of our teachers put in enrichment activities,” said Principal Angela Morris. “Some of our kids just flew with those and it put in my ear that they wanted to have some more activities.”
Prior to becoming Geil Elementary principal, Morris said the elementary school she was at previously had a STEM night. Taking inspiration from that, she decided to turn it into a day of activities.
Jonah Reyes and Lucyana Munoz were among the 311 students, who engaged in hands-on STEM activities.
Reyes said his favorite activity was learning about electricity.
“My favorite activity was when we made light up cards,” he said. “We had to get this copper tape that we had to line up down this line. They had us bend the copper tape around. And if you did it right, it would light up.”
Reyes said he also learned that currents can travel through people.
“They had this energy stick and one person touched it. Then another person also touched it and it went through and it made a noise telling it that the power had gone from one to another. We went around almost the entire room and it still worked, which was fun to see.”
The students also got to see real moon rocks brought back from NASA. Morris said the moon rocks sparked the idea for the STEM day to coincide with the rocks’ arrival.
“Even though we don’t get to touch them, we only get to touch ones that are supposed to feel like it, it’s just cool to see something that is not from here,” said Reyes.
Munoz said her favorite activities were making moon sand and using a green screen. The moon sand was created with a mixture of flour and baby oil.
“The green screen was cool because they had different kids go up and they put them in different places,” she said. “One was a roller-coaster, one was walking in New York City. It was cool to see how movies actually do it.”
Aside from learning STEM concepts, students also learned the importance of teamwork.
“It also helped with teamwork because there was one where we had to get a cup off of the ground,” said Munoz. “It was cool to work together with people you usually don’t work with and see who you work with well and who you don’t work with well.”
Morris said some of the younger students also used Legos to construct objects using only one hand or with their eyes closed.
“It was just a fun day of learning,” said Morris. “Just a different type of learning to broaden their knowledge.”
Following the STEM day, teachers and students provided feedback to Morris about what they enjoyed and what they would change for future STEM days.
Some of the activities included:
— study of germs with Western Nebraska Community College nurses
— look at fossils, national forests and other items of the past with Agate Fossil Beds employees
— make light up greeting cards to learn about electricity with the extension office
— watch a river demonstration as particles travel through the ecosystem with the Natural Resource District
— work with a green screen to see how movies display different backgrounds with Gering High School teacher Broc Brown
— look at drones with GHS teacher Justin Reinmuth
— create moon sand
— make bird feeds from milk cartons and watered-down glue
— build a boat and see if it floats
— examine a moon rock from NASA and learn about astronauts