What do you get when you combine Legos, marbles, Vincent van Gogh and lots of excited kids?
You get STREAM Night at Liberty Creek Elementary School.
“We took STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and added R for reading and A for art,” said organizer Stacy Pecha.
This new K-2 Central Valley elementary school opened its doors this fall and already has 600 students enrolled. Many of them attended one of two STREAM nights last week.
Kids and parents chose from among 20 different workshops offered. Each activity – from building balloon towers to creating marble mazes to making candy catapults – combined educational concepts with some serious fun.
While most of the workshops were led by school staff, folks from Home Depot facilitated a periscope building activity and staff from Vera Water and Power set up a display demonstrating the function and danger of neighborhood power lines.
Pecha said they asked attendees to sign up in teams of two –one parent and one child.
“It gives them some one-on-one time,” she said.
Principal Kim Kyle said: “All the activities are hands-on things that children and parents can work on together.”
Six-year-old Kelsey Anderson took on a more supervisory role during the construction of her candy catapult.
“It’s like a slingshot thing,” she said. “I’m telling my mom what to do.”
Meanwhile in the gym, plastic bowling pins fell at a fast rate as children used foot power to launch balls at various targets.
When asked why he chose the foot cannon activity, Ethan Creach, 6, was direct. “You get to knock stuff down.”
As his dad waited patiently for a turn, Ethan discovered a basic principle of physics.
“If you stomp it really hard, it goes farther,” he said.
Other parent-kid teams unleashed their creativity.
Lilith Sonko, 5, labored over a Candy Dandy Construction Dome with her mother, Kim.
Using gumdrops, jelly beans and toothpicks, she crafted a geodesic dome.
While her mom handed her toothpicks, Lilith said, “You can create stuff with your imagination.”
That creativity appealed to Easton Comstock, 7, who worked nearby.
“You can make anything you want,” he said, adding that he chose the activity “because it’s building and engineering.”
He added another jelly bean.
“The wider the base, the more stable it is,” he said.
His career goals come as no surprise.
“I kinda want to be a builder when I grow up.”
Shapes, textures and dimensions were investigated during the Do You Know Vincent van Gogh? workshop.
At Liberty Creek all students get to explore art during the school week thanks to the parent-driven Masters of Art Program.
“There was a need,” said parent organizer Sophie Terry. “Studies have proven art helps kids be more successful. Art levels the playing field for students.”
Though providing a fun night for parents and kids while offering educational opportunities was the goal of STREAM night, at least one of the lessons learned had lifelong application.
As Arya Burgoyne, 5, borrowed her dad’s phone to take pictures of him using their candy catapult, she summed up what she had learned.
“You should always try and not give up,” she said.