By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Fourteen students at John F. Kennedy Catholic School worked on a STEAM project during the summer break.
Traditionally, the school focuses on STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math. But JFK Counselor Ana Schott added the “A” for arts. Because students’ time is less structured during the summer, she wanted to offer a STEAM project to give them an opportunity to explore and learn about a special interest. Besides having their work on display at school, students received a “jeans day” pass. An anonymous donor gave $5 gift cards to Barnes & Noble for each participating student. Those were distributed following Mass on Aug. 25 at Our Lady of Victory Church.
Schott said students chose a topic to explore that they wanted to learn more about. They needed to find three resources at the local library and an additional resource — such as a video, person (friend or family), newspaper, magazine or day trip.
Students documented their projects’ process with notes, photos and artwork and then created a video, poster or artwork to illustrate what they did. Projects were displayed at Unpack Your Backpack night and in the school’s main lobby the first week of the new academic year.
Sixth-grader Sean Brown chose computer programming for his project. His resources included books and his mom, Linda, since she works with computers. Sean showed an operating system based on Linux. “Most computers have Windows, but there are others out there,” he noted. He made the spare computer into a virtual machine.
His documentation showed how to pull up different windows with keyed-in commands. Sean admits the project wasn’t completely easy and he had some problems in the beginning. But it all worked out.
Fourth-grader Sophia Hillebrand chose fundraising for Rocky’s Rescue in Blue Grass as her project. She said her family has adopted two dogs from Rocky’s. The business offers canine training, boarding and adoptions. Sophia wanted to do what she could to help the animals, especially with a place for them to be comfortable during thunderstorms.
Third-grader Wrigley Mancha wants to be a meteorologist. She read a variety of books on weather in general, but also one on tornadoes. She said she learned from reading that anyone, no matter their age, color or gender, can become anything they want. “I want to save lives when storms come,” Wrigley said.
She performed three experiments over the summer on water cycles, air pressure and tornadoes.
For the water cycle experiment she used a container with hot water and a plate with ice. The experiment showed condensation and rain making. For the air pressure experiment she used a jar, match and egg. With temperature differences inside and outside the jar, she was able to show high and low pressure. The result was the egg being sucked into the jar. For the tornado experiment she used two attached water bottles. When the combined bottles were turned over, water went from one bottle to the next and a tornado formed.
Schott said the summer project allowed students to explore their interests and passion. “It’s never too early to explore.”