FAIRFIELD, NJ — Fifth and sixth grade students in the high enrichment program (HEP) at Fairfield’s Winston Churchill Elementary School displayed science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) projects last week at the school’s annual STEAM festival intended to showcase the students’ skills, talents and creativity.

This year, 21 HEP students presented projects in the school gym that included an original table sign, project display, student activity and a slide show to indicate how their work incorporated each of the STEAM elements.

One such project came from Ava Brignola and Amanda Rizzo, who demonstrated how STEAM is involved in sports. Using softball as an example, they explained the use of each element as follows:

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  • Science: use of kinetic energy and force;
  • Technology: use of electronic and digital scoreboards;
  • Engineering: building of stadiums and use of man-made equipment;
  • Arts: equipment designs and general shapes of bases and fields; and
  • Math: measuring penalty kicks, calculating the distance from home plate to the pitcher’s mound and placement of bases.

During the event, fourth, fifth and sixth graders visited the gym to participate in the planned student activities, such as creating cartoon characters, making clay fingerprints and kicking soccer balls.

Each group was also tasked with creating a technology, entertainment and design (TED) Talk video, which can be viewed below:

HEP and STEAM innovation educator Jennifer DeSordi explained that the first STEAM exhibit at Churchill was developed by students as a way for them to showcase their talents.

“Additionally, the students were able to foster their critical-thinking skills, which are much-needed for career and life readiness,” said DeSordi, adding that the students also took ownership of their learning and the learning process.

Students are encouraged to select any topic that interests them while incorporating the concepts of STEAM.

“Their ideas and work ignited a spark, inspired them, built confidence—and because of this, they owned it,” said DeSordi, who described the process as “learning in disguise" since the topics are genuinely interesting to the students.

As she explored the exhibit and took in all of the students’ hard work, fifth grade HEP teacher Tatiana Maynard expressed pride in the fact that the students “did all of this themselves.”

DeSordi and Maynard both strongly recommended that their students include them in their college portfolios.

A Description of the 2020 Student Projects:

Catherine Golioto and Sofia Kerstner presented a slide show on climate change and how it is affecting the world, such as the fires in Australia and the bleaching of ocean coral. The girls said the project was “interesting and fun,” noting that they “worked hard on it for four months.”

Leah Kirk and Ashley Dasaro programmed a robot named Ozobot to follow a paper trail with colors. They explained that the robotic platform, which empowers coding and STEAM education, had sensors underneath that could sense the colors. Once the girls turned Ozobot on, it began to search for colors and paths.

Joey Bivona presented “Fantastic Fossils” at his display, where students were invited to dig for fossils and make clay fingerprints.

Miles Schmidt and Reid Clausi presented “Guitar Pedals and Musical Effects,” which dealt with looping and overdubbing.

Rocco Pontrella and David Tricoche displayed “Wonderful World of Instruments” featuring the viola and trombone. Participating students were asked to memorize notes and play a matching game.

Maya Zynwala and Annabella Colon hosted a booth called “Spectacular Soccer,” where were invited to estimate how many black pentagons are on a regular soccer ball and participate in a passing activity. The girls said they enjoyed learning how science and technology are incorporated in the sport.

Daniel Gorab, Ivan Hernandez and Jackson Lodgek also included baseball in their individual presentations.

Hernandez explained how physics and math are important in hitting the baseball—noting, for example, that a 23.5-degree launch angle is the best angle to hit a homerun—while Lodgek showed the difference between throwing a baseball and a football.

Philip Alagia’s project featured drawings of cartoon characters, such a Pikachu and Naruto; and Ilias Skounakis presented a comic book display, where he showed his visitors how to draw a basic comic book character.

In their presentation of “Divine Drawings,” Jillian Breslin and Alex Bivona focused on how to draw a dog; and Rohan Vyas presented a step-by-step poster on how to draw Mickey Mouse.

Nicolette Capalbo also focused drawing for her project, explaining how to test the materials used in art, how to use a computer to create an image, etc.

Kylie Bronder’s project focused on the writing aspect of the arts, such as how to create a story and develop a character.

Joe Poto’s Lego display and activity timed participating students as they built with Legos.

Talia Machin created a lava lamp using scientific principles, and Lila Hricko did an explosion demonstration using Coca-Cola and Mentos.

All students showed enthusiasm about their topics, with many of them stating that they worked hard and learned a lot.