MONTVILLE, NJ – March 19 was a special day at Cedar Hill Elementary School as the students engaged in a day devoted to STEAM, the acronym for science, technology, engineering, art and math. The day began with a play from the People’s Improv Theater called “Pluto is Missing – a Not-So-Planetary Musical,” then the kids were off to the classrooms to create their own mini-musicals about different scientific subjects, which they then filmed to present to other classes.

The seven-person People’s Improv troupe set “Pluto is Missing” in 2007, and explained the story of how Pluto was downgraded from a full-fledged planet to a dwarf star using original songs, puppets, and quick costume changes.

The lyrics to “Once Upon a Time in Outer Space” included:

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           Once upon a time in outer space / There were nine planets, not eight / And everything was going great / ‘Till one fateful day when they / Took one away.

           When a group of scientists […] had to make a tough call, / On a solar system overhaul / And when they’d cast their vote/ They elected to demote […] When Pluto heard the news/ It got the former planet blues…

Following the play, the students went into classrooms to create their own musicals based off of research they had done the week before, according to kindergarten teacher Cathy Lundquist. Each grade picked a question, and the kids broke up into groups and became script writers, prop creators, costume makers and singers.

The kindergarteners learned why the sky is blue, while the first graders researched what kinds of animals could survive on Jupiter and created a performance sung to “It’s a Small World.”

The second graders studied how specific animals adapt to habitats like the rain forest and the desert, and the results were accompanied by “This Land is Your Land.”

The third graders also chose “This Land is Your Land” as the music for their performance, and they had monster trucks, mini vans and a hybrid vehicle in their “Could you drive a car on Mars?” play.

“It was kind of inspired by Elon Musk sending his Tesla into space,” Carol Dudsak told TAPinto Montville. “Plus it was a take-off on Dr. Seuss because it was his birthday recently.”

The fourth graders studied Earth’s landforms and presented their play on the formation of the different continents via the volcanoes and the shaking of the tectonic plates – with the help of the Yeti of course. Their song was also “This Land is Your Land.”

The fifth graders answered the question “If you were one of the first colonists on Pluto, what type of shelter would you build?” and used “This Land is Your Land” as well.

Members of the People’s Improv troupe coached the students with their plays, with Alfonso Giansanti telling the second graders, “You get to use your outdoor voices, indoors today,” when trying to train the kids to project and speak loudly.

At the conclusion of the day, the kids presented their musicals, which were filmed so that other classes and grades could see the final result and learn about the kids’ findings.

Lyrics ©Chris Mann. Used with permission.

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