Wednesday, October 27, 2021

STEAM Night at TBE Blasts it Out of the Park

Rumination from the Rock and Beyond

Rain, wind and water didn’t hamper the enthusiasm of hundreds of excited students that attended the recent second annual STEAM Night on May 24th at Tommie Barfield Elementary with their eager families right alongside them.

What is STEAM? It’s the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. Trust me, there was an abundance of each subject to meet the needs of participants and parents alike.

Principal Katie Maya, Assistant Principal Alyssa Ledbetter and Reading Coach Molly Skudnig were on hand to greet students and parents and set them on their path to investigations.

Students were given a STEAM Night Passport where various opportunities were being held, made their choices and received a stamp for participating, learning and having fun at each. The variety and levels of engagement were terrific, as witnessed by students happily getting their stamps and then whisking their families off to the next adventure choice. Students were encouraged to try at least ten of the sessions offered.

You could stop for food and karaoke between activities, see students performing gymnastics, singing or playing instruments on stage (including the baby grand piano) under the direction of music teacher, Lisa Braren, creating artistic projects sure to be displayed on the fridge, math board games, gardening, mural painting (thanks to art teacher Mary Hopkins), trying their hands at computer coding at various levels (thanks to tech wiz Jody McCarty), building things to certain specifications with a plethora of building blocks, Ping and String (thanks to physical education teacher Tim Coyle), experimenting with electrical circuits to make lights shine or fans to run…and more! Here are some titles: Codapillars, OzoBots, Virtual Reality, Laser Light Challenge, Lego Mindstorms, Makerspace, 3D Printer, Snapology, Osmo & Quiver and Dash Robots. Seriously! If you know what more than three of these are, good for you! There were guests there, especially the grandparents, who were wide-eyed by the variety of technology. It’s easy to see how the students’ engagement fosters the depth of discovery and makes learning a challenge, but also fun. There are so many of the STEAM events that provided liaisons into multiple fields that it makes you want to go back to school!

In addition to the dedicated TBE teachers and staff, there were other sessions with local science experts including Ryan Shore, former TBE teacher and present operator of “Full STEAM Ahead,” an after-school program that stimulates and practices STEAM skills, and Ryan Westberry from the CCPS science department who provided the tools to create seltzer poppers. It was always a surprise when one of tops popped up in the air, much to the delight of the participants.

Representatives from the Marco Island Public Library were there, signing up eager readers for the summer reading program and demonstrating a 3D printer. The Marco Island Fire Rescue Department participated with demonstrations of fire extinguishers, very important science tools. Joann Moe, from Snapology, brought tons of ideas and there was also assistance to set up your Twitter account, if you hadn’t already “followed” TBE. You can keep in touch with the “goings on” by reading just a few short words and be “in the know!” Just imagine how your children or grandchildren will admire your “with-it-ness.” Here’s MY tweet: TBE had the best STEAM event ever thanks to the dedicated staff, parents, students and guests.

Jory Westberry has been a dedicated educator for over 40 years, the last 14 as Principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary, where she left her heart. Life is rich with things to learn, ponder and enjoy so let’s get on with the journey together!

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