Science As Child's Play

  • It’s Elementary, my dear students!

    Science As Child's Play


    For the past five years, the Sayville Elementary Principals, Dr. Lisa Ihne (CA), Dr. Michele LeBlanc (LA), and Mrs. Rose Castello (SD) have organized an annual Science Symposium to awaken an interest in the wonders of science for their elementary students. Their objective was two-fold: to provide unique learning experiences that fostered an early interest in science and to help prepare fourth- and fifth-graders for their Science Fair requirements.


    This year the scientific horizons were expanded to become a S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Symposium, thanks to the introduction of Chromebooks and the willingness and dedication of talented teacher and student volunteers to tie it all together. 


    “Our teachers had worked hard to learn and tailor new programs and create captivating lessons, which our students devoured at the S.T.E.M. Symposium!” Lincoln Avenue Principal and Symposium coordinator Dr. Michele LeBlanc remarked.  “The evening has been a tremendous undertaking that was fully supported by our three building MST lab aides, who worked so hard to prepare and set up the materials well in advance, by the Site Based Teams who assisted in the planning, and by the PTAs from all three building who contributed to the cultural arts program The Magic of Chemistry. The learning is always the focus of the evening, but the high level of enthusiasm from both the teachers and the students couldn’t be beat!”


    On the evening of the Sixth Annual S.T.E.M. Symposium, nearly 200 third-, fourth, and fifth-graders, along with their parents, entered the doors of scientific exploration at Lincoln Avenue school. Each student was allowed to participate in three of the twelve workshops offered that evening. Some students and parents played with Little Bits electronic building blocks, some were amazed by the magic tricks and circus skills that demonstrated the wonders of chemistry, others learned how to put together a display board to enhance their science projects or witnessed amazing birds of prey; an enthusiastic group even learned to write lines of code.


    Many discovered answers to scientific questions they had never known to ask. For example, in the TOWER POWER Building Design activity,students were challenged to design load- bearing towers made out of paper. That night, the strongest paper tower supported 6.25 pounds. In the Marble Mazes and More! Activity, students tested various marble mazes created by fifth graders, and using the laws of motion, judged which was the slowest marble in the “Marble Run” contest. The answer: the slowest marble maze ran 10.86 seconds, on average.



    While playing in these activities, the students developed an understanding for the importance of repeated trial and data collection that reinforced the scientific process.  They also gained ideas as to how to create a science fair project that involves design and construction;



    There were also exciting new technologies offered that evening.  Using Tinker Cad students were asked to redesign and improve an existing object they then produced using a 3-D printer.  


    In addition, select fifth-grade students were enlisted for a very sophisticated, long-term geospatial-research project, called “Arc GIS.” The students in this workshop were introduced to a real scientific program, learned how to access and use the program, and received data from local rivers regarding water chemistry and organisms identified at various sampling stations by middle and high school students from Suffolk County. This workshop, which was observed by invited guest from BNL Mr. Mel Morris, was designed to involve these future scientists in collating the collected data regarding our local environment, and creating “story maps” to understand and communicate the data.  Providing ongoing guidance and support for this authentic scientific research project in after school sessions will be organizers from Sayville staff Ace Stretch teacher Kathy Whitehurst, SHS Science Research Teacher Maria Brown, and Education and Outreach Coordinator, Melissa Griffiths Parrott, along with volunteer Sayville High School research students.


    The measure of success for the elementary S.T.E.M. Symposium was not only in the results of the labs and workshops, but in the tremendous excitement generated among the students, parents, and teachers who enjoyed playing with science.


    The Stem Symposium 2016 would not have been possible without the assistance of the following:

    Special thanks go to all listed below:


    Teacher Volunteers

    Katherine Whitehurst

    Maria Brown

    Laura Moyer

    Deb Wortzman

    Rick Caskey

    Cyndy Dwyer

    Rick Michaels

    Kateri Volpe

    Maria Sheltz

    Gail Daughtery

    Melinda Moran


    Teacher Aides

    Carol Dulmovitz

    Tara Forte

    Vicki Foster



    Christine Miller


    Parents – 2

    Melissa Griffiths-Parrot

    Jennifer Fontanetta


    HS Students – Approximately 15

    Site Based Teams Assisted with Planning

    PTAs – All three building contribute to the cultural arts program in the Magic of Chemistry.

    Students – Approximately 198

    Workshops – 12




    For details about the actual workshops, see attached pdfs.


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