Instead of doing living history last Saturday at Fort Frederica, Tom and I represented the National Monument at the STEAM Festival. Most people are familiar with STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. For some reason, Glynn County Schools also add Art in the mix. Which seems odd to me: which of these things doesn’t belong?
Whatever acronym you use, the STEAM Festival was primarily a science-oriented event held at the Brunswick High School. There was some discussion about who would represent the monument and our boss decided to send the engineering professor. I just went along for the ride.
The event is supposed to be for K-12, but that is a vast age range. Most kids already know whether they like science by the time they get to high school. Tom designed an activity – “How to Build a Star Fort” – aimed at middle school kids. I suggested bringing along some artifacts from the fort that kids could touch – more of K-5 activity.
We went and set up along with exhibitors from area colleges and schools. There was a music table and an art club came so the A was represented. But most of the tables were about STEM. The robotics clubs from the Glynn County middle and high schools came. Each of the elementary schools had a table with an activity. Someone set up an inflatable planetarium.
My favorite exhibit was the Georgia College science table. They had a Van de Graaff generator to make static electricity. Unfortunately it rained all morning and was very humid so the generator wasn’t as spectacular as it usually is. All of the students and helpers wore fun rainbow lab coats and really engaged with the kids. They made elephant toothpaste: you can watch a video of it here. Then the chemistry professor showed the “old nassau reaction” which changes “water” from cloudy to orange to black. Kids who see experiments like that will get excited about chemistry.
Our table was less exciting but most of the kids still engaged and enjoyed checking it out. Because the children were mostly K-4, they enjoyed touching our archaeological artifacts. I asked them to guess what the items were and how old they were. Then we talked a little about archaeology and how they do the same kind of thing. We handed out a bunch of flyers on our upcoming Colonial Day and the Archaeology Camp this summer.
Participating in the STEAM Festival was fun and educational. For the kids who attended and for us!