Canfield elementary school brings STEM alive

Hilltop elementary students conduct experiments

By KALEA hall


Eight-year-old Carly Slaven stood before a catapult in the Hilltop Elementary School gymnasium as her classmates cheered her on.

She placed a ball on the catapult, pulled with all her might, and instant cheers erupted after the ball hit the structure her classmates built.

“It was fun knocking down stuff,” said Carly, a third-grade student at Hilltop. “I just love knocking stuff down!”

Slaven was one of 110 third-graders who participated in Hilltop’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math week this week created by the parents of the school’s students. All week, students from each grade level entered the gymnasium and explored the world of STEM with a catapult activity, lava lamp and build-a-cloud experiments, Minecraft with math and radio technology.

“Our favorite thing is to let kids figure things out,” said Dave Wilkeson, Hilltop STEM week chairman. “The idea is to spark an interest.”

For the past three years, parents have donated time and money to make STEM week possible at Hilltop.

All the activities have some element of STEM. For example, the catapult game is all about engineering. The students have to think how to build a stable structure so their classmates cannot knock it down with a variety of weighted objects.

“This is talked about throughout the school,” Wilkeson said.

Cloud in a bottle is a science activity that Wilkeson said they “just had to do” after finding it on YouTube.

Four third-grade students surrounded the cloud-in-a-bottle table as Mark Miller, a parent and volunteer for STEM week, explained what the air being pumped into a bottle with a little rubbing alcohol inside was causing. When the air pump was removed, a white cloud suddenly formed inside the bottle.

“It’s like instant shock,” Miller said.

There were different activities for each grade level throughout the week, and the students all seemed to take in the experience with excitement. The sounds of laughter bounced off the gym walls as students were thrilled with the hands-on learning environment.

Wilkeson saw one of the students quickly see where all the pieces of a primary shape puzzle would go.

“That will get him started in math and geometry,” Wilkeson said. “He is probably going to be an engineer.”

STEM week will soon be going to the C.H. Campbell Elementary in Canfield.

Joe Maroni, principal of Hilltop, plans to bring the STEM concepts such as those used in STEM week to the classroom.

“Our goal is to make this a model for other schools to follow,” Maroni said.

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