Family STEAM Night

posted May 26, 2015, 11:09 AM by Wendy Harrop
Our first annual Summit Family STEAM Night was a great success.  What is STEAM? STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.  



Over 100 people graced our cafeteria, Makerspace, library, halls, art room, gym and various classrooms. It was a RAGING success!  Upon entering, each family received a STEAM Night packet that listed each activity, location, and extension or enrichment questions to help follow up or promote deeper level thinking.  We also had a raffle at the end if students showed work on their packet!  When planning, we looked at a great blog called Classroom Quests for a lot of inspiration but also used some ideas we've found are fun while teaching in the Makerspace.  


The Activities and Extension/En


Challenge: Build a sculpture or structure using the materials provided by Ms. La Grange.

  • What can you add to your design to make it taller?

  • Would you do anything different if you were to start again?



Challenge: Answer the clues and complete the physical challenges to solve the final puzzle created by Mr. Dirkmann.

  • What was the most difficult clue and why?

  • What is a clue you would add to the scavenger hunt if you could?


This was a fun way to incorporate physical movement with mind challenging questions.  For example, the first clue was for families to count the number of squares in the picture, add a zero to that number and run to that room number (The answer is 40, so they ran to room 400)




Challenge: Try using a piece of equipment you’ve never used before in the Makerspace.

  • What worked well?

  • What was difficult about trying something new?


Challenge: Show a family member something you’ve learned how to do this year in the Makerspace.

  • Can you explain why it works?

  • How would you use this tool/skill/information in life outside of school (a job, a hobby, etc.)?


Challenge: Get a challenge card from the baskets and complete a Lego building or math challenge activity.

  • What math did you have to use in building your creation?  

  • What would you do differently if you were trying the same challenge again?




All of our Makerspace kits and supplies were out and available for our families to try. It was a great way for parents to see some of the things their kids are actually doing in the space!


Challenge: Use the binary code key to create a bracelet that spells your initials in binary code.

  • Can you explain what “binary code” is?

  • Try writing a word in binary code and have a friend figure out what the word is.


We used a key from the Code.org website that helped us set these up.  While it was a fun activity, the idea of "binary code" is pretty advanced and we might want to explain it further during our classes. Compared to all the other fun things we had going on, this station wasn't as popular.


Challenge: Using the materials provided, create a catapult to launch a puff ball.

  • How far can you get a puffball to launch?

  • Can you change your catapult design to make the puffball go further?

  • How does the weight of what you launch affect the distance? (Try launching a small eraser)



This station was a huge hit!  We made some examples but we encouraged students to try and make their own design.  Then we put graph paper on the floor and let them launch their puff balls and mark where their's landed in comparison to other students.  We also provided small erasers so they could see how weight had an affect on distance.

Challenge: Have fun with this mini Cardboard Challenge! Create anything you’d like!

  • What did you make? Why?


Our first Cardboard Challenge was such a hit, we figured why not set up another?! It's amazing what families can create with cardboard and duct tape!

Challenge: Create a Thaumatrope (an optical illusion toy from the 1800s).

  • What happens with you spin the straw more quickly or more slowly?

  • Try drawing different pictures.  What kinds of pictures work best?

  • Choose one thing to change (that’s the variable) and make a prediction.



This station was fun and easy! Definitely something both young and old can do!


Challenge: Use the Green Screen and iPads to be a news reporter.

  • What other ways can you think of to use the Green Screen?



Our Green Screen is relatively new and we love showing off all the fun things we can do with it.  


Challenge: Go on Code.org and play any coding game you’d like.

  • Explain to someone how coding works.  

  • Why does the order of the steps matter when writing code?



This station literally ran itself. We set up our computers and let Code.org do all the work! Most of our students have been introduced to at least one, if not multiple, activities on the website so we wanted to give families a chance to see how easy coding can be!

Challenge: Go on Code.org and play any coding game you’d like.

  • Explain to someone how coding works.  

  • Why does the order of the steps matter when writing code?




This was a craft and also a fun math game. Quiznos donated boxes that worked perfect to make a cash register and we had so much play money, it looked like a robbed a play bank.


Challenge: Meet the members of the various Robotics teams and see how their robots work.

  • How did the Robotics teams get involved in making robots?

  • What could you do now to prepare for middle or high school Robotics?


We had two different high school Robotics teams bring their robots, equipment, and videos to share with our students.  Our students got to drive the robotics and really interact with the equipment. Some students never left this area! I think we have some future Robotics members on our hands!


Challenge: Examine the archaeological site, also known as “the cookie.”  Map your “site” and extract any artifacts, also known as “the chocolate chip.”

  • Graph how many artifacts (chocolate chips) you found. How does your number compare with others?

  • What was the most difficult part of your archaeological excavation?



For this station, students mapped a cookie and then dug out the chocolate chips with toothpicks.  Then they graphed how many chocolate chip cookies were in their cookie on an-all school graph.  Not only did we do science and math but we also learned that name-brand cookies had more chocolate chips than the generic version! And we got to eat a cookie when we were done!


Challenge: Launch three angry birds and see how many cardboard bricks you can knock down.  

  • Which launcher worked best and why?

  • Did you have a strategy when launching? What was it?


We had three stuffed Angry Birds and we used different launchers from our Phy. Ed. department to knock over cardboard bricks that our 5K rooms let us borrow.  Students had to change the angle and force at which they were launching to be successful.


Thank you to all the staff members who helped out and all the families who joined us.


We are already planning for our next STEAM night for the 15-16 school year.  Any ideas?!  Let us know!

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