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Irrigon Elementary Celebrates STEAM

three students with their LEGO tower

More than 125 participants enjoyed Irrigon Elementary’s STEAM Open House Extravaganza on Thursday, January 18. Students and their families joined in the fun of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics with a variety of activities in classrooms, the cafeteria and the gymnasium.

In the library, students downloaded instructions from laptop computers into small robots, and then lined them up to race. Students quickly learned it was important to give the robots the correct coding if you wanted to win. As soon as one race was over, the students scrambled back to the laptops to try it again, big smiles on their faces and brains churning with ideas for next time. Also in the library, parents and their children dived into LEGO building, with tall towers and complicated patterns emerging.

The Irrigon Jr/Sr High Drone Club had a demonstration in the cafeteria, with club members using First Person View (FPV) goggles to drive their drones around a course. Others could watch the drones on large screens. Junior Gracie Stirk, a member of the new club, said she got involved because she finds drones interesting and she thinks it is a recent thing that the public can really explore.

In one classroom, students assembled their own science kits, with materials and instructions to conduct 12 experiments at home. Another classroom featured “Hour of Code,” a global movement introducing tens of millions of students worldwide to computer science. Lisa Mueller, a design manager at Microsoft in Seattle, was volunteering. Her three nieces attend Irrigon schools and she was excited to be able to share the excitement with students. “Coding is just a set of instructions, anybody can do it. This shows kids it’s a career path that can take them anywhere they want to go,” Mueller said. She encouraged anyone to visit HourofCode.com to get involved.

STEAM participants learned about “Oobleck” in Classroom A1, to the delight of many. Oobleck is a material that is polymers and non-Newtonian fluid -- in other words, it’s not a liquid or a solid and consists of cornstarch and water. Students loved making it, touching it and playing with it to a chorus of “that’s cool,” “is it slime?” and “wow, this is amazing!” This station was sponsored by the Port of Morrow.

The “A” in STEAM was evident in Classroom A4, where parents and children were painting rocks. Vibrant colors and all kinds of themes were emerging. The rock art was organized by “Irrigon Rocks”, a community group that helps to inspire creativity and energize people to explore the beautiful area around Irrigon. The organization, which has a Facebook group, encourages the painted rocks to be hidden for others to find. In another classroom, Movement Art also engaged many students in active dancing.

Students practiced their math skills in a delicious way in the cafeteria kitchen. They measured ingredients to make smoothies under the direction of staff from the Oregon State University Extension Service. Bank of Eastern Oregon had a station for practicing decimals and learning the proper way to write a check.

The STEAM Open House's grand finale was a “Science of Electricity” assembly by OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) as part of their outreach program. The assembly used numerous student volunteers from the audience to teach about electrons, static electricity and currents with a variety of hands-on demonstrations.

Erin Stocker, principal of Irrigon Elementary, said the STEAM event was a great way to celebrate science and art for students and their families. “We want our kids excited about all of these concepts and able to share that fun with their parents. Finding ways to show participants how technology touches so many aspects of our lives and what career paths it can lead to is really positive,” Stocker said. Irrigon Elementary thanks all of the community partners and volunteers who helped make the event possible.

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