CLARK, NJ – STEAM programs at Valley Road School are becoming a time of challenge and exploration for students of Mrs. Scarola.  Children are invited to build, create and think as a team to solve a challenge. 

Third grade students learned to be package engineers recently. Students had to work in groups to design an attractive gift package that would keep a plant from getting damaged if it were being transported a distance.  The students used boxes, artificial flowers, water beads, pipe cleaners, foil, cotton, and sponges to create their package. According to Scarola, the groups came up with some creative designs.

Bioengineering was the focus of the fourth grade students. Students learned about frogs in the rainforest and how they absorb water through a membrane.  Their task was to work in groups to engineer an artificial membrane to keep a frog moist without the frog becoming overly saturated with water. 

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Students used water, measuring cups, mesh, coffee filters, sponges, felt and cheesecloth to see what worked best in creating a membrane for their plastic frog. “It was challenging, but the students love the project,” Scarola said. 

The fourth graders also learned about physical science by working in groups to create roller coasters. They explored physical science concepts by engineering roller coasters from specialized kits.

Finally the fifth grade STEAM students had what Scarola referred to as a messy but fun project when they learned about environmental engineering. The children studied the effects of an oil spill on the environment. They worked in groups to clean up an oil spill using aluminum pans filled with water and pebbles, baby oil, tempera paint, sponges, cotton balls, mesh, pipettes, and coffee.

“All of these hands-on activities encouraged students to apply what they have learned in STEAM class. I'm very proud of the hard work that went into their final products, "  said Scarola.