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Students extinguish fires, make art, pet snakes during STEAM Day
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Mike Craven gives pottery demonstrations Wednesday, March 27, 2019, to East Hall Middle School students during STEAM Day. The event included 52 interactive sessions involving science, technology, engineering, art and math. - photo by Scott Rogers

Playing virtual reality games, petting snakes and putting out fires, East Hall Middle’s students engaged in a combination of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics activities during STEAM Day.

The event was held Wednesday, March 27, for its second year through a partnership with Riverside Military Academy’s National Science Honor Society and grant funding from Clipper Petroleum.

The day included a total of 52 sessions, each led by East Hall Middle teachers, community presenters and the honor society’s Riverside Military members.

Students were placed in groups and activities based on their interests.

Jennifer Parker, East Hall Middle’s media specialist, said she gained inspiration to start the event after attending a conference that highlighted the concept of STEAM Day.

“It’s really all about the engagement,” Parker said. “Critical thinking and problem solving are huge, and we want our kids to hear from real-world presenters about why that’s so important in careers.”

Cheers and the sound of fire took over the front entrance at the school, as students learned from Hall County Fire Service Lt. Louis Legier how to properly put out a fire.

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East Hall Middle School's Lacei Bunte uses a fire extinguisher Wednesday, March 27, 2019, to put out a small blaze during STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering,Art, and Math) Day. The event is like a field day for Science and Engineering where students participate in four of 52 interactive sessions. The event will have over 20 community presenters. - photo by Scott Rogers

While they took turns using a fire extinguisher, Legier encouraged the students to remember the acronym, PASS — pull, aim, squeeze and sweep.

Lacei Bunte, an eighth-grader, took three tries to finally extinguish a controlled fire.

“It wasn’t what I expected; it was a lot harder,” Bunte said. “I had a lot of fun.”

Gary Ledbetter, a teacher at East Hall Middle, tied in art with technology during his activity.

He presented students with an image of the 1948 painting “Christina’s World” by Andrew Wyeth.

Ledbetter explained that the painting depicted Wyeth’s neighbor who suffered from polio. In the piece of art she is crawling through a field.

The students were asked to insert themselves into the painting and imagine how they would personally convey the emotion of the artwork.

They took photos of one another and digitally pasted their portraits into the painting.

Ledbetter said he enjoyed watching the students express themselves and tell their own story through art and technology.

“For me it’s just getting them to think in a way they might not normally think,” he said.

Other activities included making water pressure bottle rockets, turning pottery, swinging water-filled cups to learn the laws of motion and making music on SoundCloud.

“I hope that they walk away today excited about learning and seeing how what they are interested in ties into education, growing and learning new things,” Parker said.