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Fun learning: STEM stacks up for Overton Elementary School students

Taking on a challenge

Mya Pastor, Josephina Huynh and Precious Greene measure the height of their tower in the Overton Elementary STEM event. The third-grade girls’ tower was 46 cm tall. In back left , Damnia Le is the parent that worked with this group in tower building.
Wayne Hinshaw, for the Salisbury Post

SALISBURY — The STEM challenge was simple: Build a tower using only 40 spaghetti noodles, a yard of tape and one giant marshmallow in 18 minutes.

Overton Elementary School invited students and their families Tuesday to STEM Night, complete with a hot dog meal and PTA bingo. The students were divided into three age groups and set to work, with a parent or family member in each group.

The purpose was to use limited materials and lots of creative design ideas to build a tower that would support a giant marshmallow on top.

The rooms were abuzz with young voices asking for more tape and offering advice on why their tower design worked or didn’t work.

Parents also learned something about their children.

Wendy Lewis, the school’s math coach for students and teacher support, said about a quarter of Overton’s students attended. “They were excited and engaged,” she said.

STEM Night will be followed during the school year by Math Night and Literacy Night, with emphasis on different parts of the curriculum. In later programs,  Catawba College junior education majors will help with learning stations.

Next, Overton students will study solar ovens in a three-week study unit partnered with Horizons Unlimited. Parents are being asked to sign up and donate materials.

John Yates, Overton’s technology instructor, outlined four points made in all the school’s programs: “Give it your best. Redo if needed. Ignore negatives. Take your time.”

STEM Night was a great opportunity for the students to have a fun experience and take on a challenge, Yates said.

“They don’t know that they are actually learning,” he said.

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