Full STEAM Ahead at the Academy

By Stephanie Sanchez, Communications Specialist Grades, PreK3-8

Who knew a banana, scissors and a piece of celery could make musical sounds? It's one of many activities designed and showcased by students on May the 4th, the official Star Wars holiday. For the musical sounds activity, students connected each of the items to an Arduino board – a programmable circuit board (sometimes called a microcontroller) that works with software on a computer. "When you touch the materials, which conduct electricity, you change the amount of current it gives," explained Engineering faculty member Mr. Willy Orozco. "Students programed the board to play a tone when each of the items are touched."

At each of the stations at the May the 4th activity, Middle School students collaborated with Lower School students to design and execute challenging projects. Ms. Tiffany Medina's Design students sewed small "Star Wars" pillows for their younger peers, while Ms. Valeria Rodriguez's students launched bottle rockets. "The rocket we are launching works off compressed air and water," said Marco Mendoza '24. "When they push each other, the water is our thrust that launches the rocket. Then a parachute deploys to bring it down safely." Watch more of the May the 4th action here.

Montgomery Drive students also ended the school year with their own STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) activities – pitching their critical thinking and problem-solving skills to sharks! Gulliver's Montgomery Drive Campus Mathematics department, in conjunction with its Makerspace, held its annual Innovation "Shark Tank" Challenge on May 15. Students' presentations were the culmination of yearlong projects that required students to design and prototype a product, research and compose a business and financial plan, and then seek fictitious financial backing from the "sharks" through their presentations.

Meanwhile, second graders studied the Everglades this year and presented their findings at the Second Grade STEAM showcase. Students learned about different environments and the ecosystems, and created multiple projects such as dioramas and art. They were challenged to think critically to solve real-world problems in the Everglades, creating bridges to prevent vehicles from hitting panthers. Parents were also invited to come see the work their children did, and participated in STEAM challenges with the students.