Skip to main content




November 22, 2013
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

SRU field students create STEAM projects

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University teacher education majors undertaking their field experience work at Wexford Elementary School are building a full head of steam as they head into STEAM Week Dec. 2-6.

The SRU students, supervised by Geraldine Jenny, assistant professor of elementary education and early childhood, will use the week to engage the elementary school students in hands-on activities focused on engineering and engineering design.

"'STEAM' comes from Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics," Jenny said.

"Our students have designed the week," she said. "It will give the elementary students, third graders, the opportunity to see how the engineering process works through various creative learning experiences."

"The activities will involve manipulative, creative materials and will emphasize science in physics and engineering as students build, construct and experiment while designing these projects. This will enhance their understandings of science in fun and creative ways while partnering with community members, faculty, SRU future teachers and elementary students," Jenny said.

Community volunteers are being asked to share how they use the engineering design process - ask, imagine, plan, create and improve - in their everyday work as part of the program, she said.

The SRU field students and the school's teachers will involve all of the school's third graders in five STEAM activities following a kick off in the school cafeteria.

Brittany Boss, an SRU early childhood education major and pre-service teacher from Bethel Park, said the third-graders will form small teams for a variety of projects, including a "Ping Pong Ball Tower of Spaghetti," in which they will be given a ping pong ball to top the tower, mini-marshmallows, tape and spaghetti strands with the assignment to build the tallest tower possible.

"The students will use their engineering skills and their thinking skills as part of the competition," Boss said.

In the "Life Savers Puff Mobile" activity, the youngsters will be given straws, candy LifeSavers, tape, paperclips, scissors and "instructions to build a 'car,' that can travel nine feet on a track using only puffs of breath to propel the vehicle," Boss said.

The "Aluminum Boat Float" competition will give the students the chance to show their engineering skills in creating a boat from a piece of aluminum, then testing it and floating it in a small pool of water. The winner will be determined by the number of pennies the boat can hold before sinking, Boss said. "There will also be activities involving paper airplanes and tracking flight distances and accuracy, which will give them experience in compiling and comparing data."

The school is part of the Pine-Richland School District.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.