On Dec. 8, Epstein Hillel School hosted its Family STEM Night, an annual event that is open to the community. Over 100 children attended and participated in interactive, hands-on STEM experiments inspired by the theme, Shomrei Adamah (Caring for the Earth).
Activities included a build-your-own wind turbine challenge; a simulated oil spill cleanup; a candy erosion experiment; a robotics recycling challenge; a microscopic air quality analysis; and much more.
Second grade student, AJ Jasilli, said his favorite activity was the ocean clean-up challenge. Participants used recycled materials to create an original tool that would remove trash of all shapes, sizes, and densities from a large bucket of water. “I like to build stuff, and it was fun to scoop the trash out of the water!” said Jasilli.
STEM Night participants each got a “passport” that provided locations, descriptions, and age-recommendations for the various activities, so students and their families could map out their own routes and choose the activities that seemed most exciting to them.
“Some participants preferred to spend their time doing a deep dive into a single STEM activity. They stuck around in one space until they mastered that particular challenge,” said EHS’s STEM Coordinator Lea Winkler. “Other participants wanted to complete as many of the activities as possible, so it was a fast-paced, active event for them.”
Winkler says this flexibility made it an especially fun evening, because there were no requirements for participation. It was experiential learning in an environment that felt more like a social gathering.
Epstein Hillel School’s seventh and eighth grade students – as part of their ongoing leadership course – assisted EHS faculty members with running the STEM challenges for the younger participants. At the end of the evening, the teens got to participate in their own “Amazing Race,” style competition that took them on an adventure throughout the school solving STEM challenges along the way.
“I’ve gone to STEM Night since I was in kindergarten,” said eighth grade student Rachel Meltzer. “This year, it was so cool to have a special STEM challenge just for us after we worked hard helping out with the little kids. Our challenge required teamwork, and it was a competition, so that made it even more exciting.” Θ