Traveling museum teaches St. Veronica students real-world applications of STEAM

By Christina Leslie | Correspondent

FUN WITH STEAM • Students in St. Veronica School, Howell, move with a robot during a visit Feb. 2 by a portable museum rooted in STEAM lessons. Mike Ehrmann photos

The gymnasium of St. Veronica School was filled with STEAM Feb. 2 as the Howell school welcomed a portable field trip that tested the students’ minds with projects and games designed to teach science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

St. Veronica School principal, Resurrection Sister Cherree Power, smiled as she watched the students engage in the day of learning and friendly competition provided by the Michigan-based “Mobile Ed Productions’ STEAM Museum.” The portable museum was made possible by a $1,000 grant awarded to the school from the Manasquan Bank Charitable Foundation.

“I was so pleased we won,” Sister Cherree said.

Photo Gallery: STEAM museum in St. Veronica

So, too, seemed the students, as they scampered between 10 brightly-colored workstations to try out the equipment and test their STEAM skills.

A bike generator taught the difference between potential and kinetic energy as students pedaled fiercely and watched their energy illuminate different-colored levels on a tower.

“I got it up to the blue,” sixth-grade student Peyton Blackley said proudly, winded after pedaling the generator’s lights up to the top of the tower. “I learned to change potential energy into kinetic energy.”

Nearby, another group of students learned the value of cooperation as they stacked large foam blocks to build a parabolic arch, and then gleefully toppled it.

Individuals attempted to weave a metal rod through an electrified “Buzzwire” without causing a circuit to form and buzz as their friends groaned in sympathy. Across the aisle, children experimented with buttons and switches to evoke a “Music Maker” machine to create a rhythmic beat, while a table filled with plastic building materials drew young architects, challenging them to fashion tall, sturdy creations.

A plasma sphere filled with energized gasses and ferrous slivers came alive when children brushed magnets across its surface. Nearby, a three-dimensional printer slowly drew in plastic filament and stamped out a small replica of a spaceship.

Other stations beckoned children interested in exploring what a robot could do with the help of coding. Pressing a few buttons would enable a small car to traverse the floor, and sketching on a tablet with brightly colored lines could send a ping pong ball-sized creature crawling or whizzing across a screen.

“This [production] supports our goals. In our STEM labs, we introduce the kids to hands-on learning,” said eighth-grade teacher Joanne Nelson, predicting that between both, “We will see a lot more kids go into these fields.”

Beckoning the children to sit “crisscross, applesauce” on the floor before him, a member of the Mobile Ed team explained the rudiments of coding and circuits before demonstrating how a robot with voice recognition might respond to a student-generated command such as “sit down.”

“Technology speaks the language of math,” he said. “You can use STEAM in everything you do.”

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