Did you know you could make plastic from milk? Or, whether temperature affects the disbursement of chemicals in water? Or, how to do improvisation in theater?
More than 240 fifth-grade students from Pottstown Middle School learned these facts and more during a four-hour STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) event at Montgomery County Community College’s West Campus in Pottstown on June 2.
The students arrived by bus in two large groups and spent the morning attending different sessions held in North and South halls and the Sustainability and Innovation Hub. The hands-on activities encouraged students to learn about all different aspects of STEAM topics, including how to extract DNA from a strawberry, observe water organisms through a microscope, use a stethoscope and expess their creativeness through art.
“I had fun making slime using borax, glue and food coloring,” said Jayson Caballero. “It was squishy and felt weird.”
“I liked how they explained everything before they did it,” added Saryah Young.
“I liked improv. It was fun. We had a partner and could only use one sentence to communicate. We went back and forth, using one sentence,” explained Haize Fulton.
Following the sessions, the students attended an expo held in the community room, where they met a rescue owl visiting from the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove. They also attempted to do different tasks using robots and learned about MCCC engineering students’ hydrogen fuel cell-powered urban concept vehicle.
“It was a great experience for them,” said Deborah Wilson, one of the Pottstown fifth grade teachers. “They learned a lot while having a good time.”
The event was the result of a collaboration that started during the Pottstown Town Talk series held last year by Emanuel Wilkerson, a 20-year-old Pottstown resident and school board member. “He held a series of conversations on different topics, including education, which we attended,” explained Dr. David DiMattio, vice president of West Campus. “We wanted to explore ways we could work more with the school district, and after the meeting, one of the teachers, Michael Didonato, approached us about creating this event.”
Wilkerson, who is currently a student at MCCC, said he held the talk series because he believes it “takes a community to raise a child,” and he wanted to “lay the foundation for tomorrow” by starting conversations and collaborations. In addition to MCCC’s faculty and staff, the College partnered with several community organizations for the STEAM programs. Carrie Barron, assistant director, and Stephanie Britten, special projects coordinator, from the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove, Audubon, Pa., held a session on birds.
Dawn White from the Green Valleys Watershed Association, Pottstown, held a session on sedimentation, and Sarah Crouthers, education coordinator at the Schuylkill River Heritage Area, explained what a watershed is and how runoff pollution impacts watersheds.