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Students relish another STEAM day

Fourth-grader Matthew Ratautas makes a clay pot using the wheel Monday at East Farms STEAM Magnet School. (Lisa Leinberger)
Fourth-grader Matthew Ratautas makes a clay pot using the wheel Monday at East Farms STEAM Magnet School. (Lisa Leinberger)

Activity-dominated event offers variety of lessons

The halls were crowded with students Monday morning at East Farms STEAM Magnet School before classes.

“It’s STEAM day,” one student called out, before dancing down the hallway singing, “STEAM day, STEAM day.”

His excitement was shared by many students at East Farms. It was the second of the school’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) days, with hands-on activities planned in two one-hour blocks.

Music teacher Lucien Saurette took a group of students – not all of them boys – outside to throw footballs.

“This will be run like a football practice,” he told them. To add a STEAM twist to it, Saurette talked about the physics of football. Students were to study three criteria when they threw the ball: whether the catch was completed, whether the ball was caught while the receiver was in motion and how far the ball was thrown.

On the stage, art teacher Sami Perry’s students took turns spinning lumps of clay into pots. The art will be fired in a kiln, glazed and then fired again.

Perry explained how to warm up the clay and make sure it was wet enough to work with.

“The thing about clay is that it’s picky,” she said.

Over at the wheel, Perry slapped a lump of clay onto the wheel for Matthew Ratautas, a fourth-grader.

She instructed him to press his thumb into the center while the wheel spun to make a bowl shape.

“It feels like my finger is getting sucked into a black hole,” Ratauras exclaimed.

In the library, Joni Walters set up activities for students to learn the difference between science projects and magic tricks. Placing a water bottle upside down on a piece of paper and rolling the paper to get it out from under the bottle: That’s a trick. Stick a pencil into a water bottle filled with rice and lift the whole thing up by the pencil: That’s science. Walters said it was friction that caused it to happen.

Jim Palumbo, an artist by trade, gave students rocks. They attached stencils and took the rocks to a machine, which sand-blasted the design into the rocks that each student kept.

“I’m probably going to put it in my room, on a shelf,” said seventh-grader Brock Phillips. “It’s pretty cool.”

The school will have one more STEAM day this year. Principal Tammy Fuller hopes to find more volunteers and funding to expand the program.