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by Ella Niederhelman
IPSWICH — With a robot shooting kickballs, an earthquake rocket-launcher, two go-karts, and student constructed carnival games, all ages flooded into the Ipswich Public Schools fifth annual STEAM showcase on Wednesday, May 4.
STEAM – standing for science, technology, engineering, art, and math – is a large aspect of many Ipswich students’ education. Ipswich STEAM’s motto emphasizes questioning, collaboration, innovation, and problem-solving in the classroom.
Adding to the artistic aspect of STEAM, media and arts at the elementary, middle, and high school sent both teacher and student representatives.
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“When you access technology, it gives everybody an opportunity to feel like an artist and create. Everyone has access to creating this beautiful art,” middle school art teacher Virginia Eaton said.
“This is the language of their [the students] generation: technology. It is a way to bring everybody in, to overlap our disciplines,” she added.
Eaton spent the evening presenting her seventh and eighth graders recent stop-motion projects. Using ten photos per one second of video, students exhibited both dedication and perseverance – alongside creativity – in this newly formed project.
Also working on an interdisciplinary project this year, third grade students at Winthrop collected weather data and transformed their findings into watercolor art.
Student representative Sierra was very excited to be surrounded by so many opportunities. With a personal favorite of the sixth-graders’ go-karts driving around the fair, she said, “I love everything.”
Her friend, Aspen, thoroughly enjoyed exploring and creating BacArt – art made from living bacteria – that was provided by New Englands BioLabs. According to her, the station even rivaled the fair’s lollipops.
Aspen also spoke to the fun of dipping her toes into new scientific opportunities this year.
“We gathered data together to make these posters. It was cool but it was very hard. [I am] very happy because they turned out very colorful and pretty,” she said.
Middle school projects
Two different STEAM based projects also excelled in the middle school this year.
In the sixth grade, students constructed sustainable go-karts through the assistance of the local non-profit Change is Simple.
Based on the foundations of sustainability, this project only built up students’ excitement to test the cars in early April and show them off to each booth at the fair.
The annual probability fair in the seventh grade also made an appearance. This year, students worked in their math classes to craft creative carnival games. These games utilize probability to explore your true “chances” at winning.
“It was cool designing and being creative, and getting to know the math,” seventh grade Rex Satter said. “It was fun getting to show everyone what Ipswich STEAM is.”
His classmate, Delaney Whitmore, added that “it was cool seeing what the younger grades and the older grades were doing, and looking up to older grades [for] what we are going to do in the future.”
Looking up to high school
With a sea of elementary students, middle schoolers, and young families swarming the booths, high school STEAM opportunities were looked up to with excitement and anticipation for future years.
While presenting his classes new three-dimensional printers, high school engineering and robotics teacher Ethan Powers spoke to students about the importance of independence and exploration in STEAM as you grow older.
“This is my first STEAM fair, so I wasn’t really expecting to see all ages. A lot of the kids, especially the younger kids who have never seen a 3D printer before, [came] over here and I can see that they [were] having their minds blown by what was in front of them,” he said.
“Hopefully I just planted the seed in their mind that this is something really interesting,” Powers added.
Climate related topics – like food waste, water usage, and idling – also made an informative appearance.
A group of six Winthrop fifth graders presented their projects on how to achieve less waste at school lunches. These students spoke to students contaminating the recycling and composting bins with the wrong waste.
They then transitioned into the methods that can be used to ensure this is avoided. This included awareness and a “share table.”
“If you have an unopened bag, you can put it in this bowl so someone else can have that snack,” fifth grade Aubrey Kelleher said.
“We want to try and make a difference to help schools make sure that everyone is using their trash and putting it in the correct bin, so that we can protect our environment,” Kelleher added.
As the end of the school year approaches, students are beginning to gain excitement for the STEAM opportunities their next year at Ipswich Public Schools will bring.
In the meantime, the many ideas presented at this years STEAM fair will branch creativity for months to come.