One of my favorite nights of the year is Family STEAM Night. During the 15/16 school year, we decided to turn Family Reading Night, which had low attendance into Family STEAM Night. The response was so large we had to split the families into two rooms based on grades and turn families away that had not RSVP’d. In a school with 350 or so students, we had had over 100 families RSVP. It was our best turn out EVER.
Here is our schedule for the night.
- 20 minutes for check-in and families get a Cooper Hewitt Ready Set Design Challenge
- 15-20 minutes of introductions, explaining the design process, and introducing the night’s challenge
- 1 hour+ to complete the design
- 10 minutes of clean-up and goodbyes
After learning of its popularity we split Family STEAM Night into two nights for the 16/17 school year. We added Extraordinaire Design Studio characters and challenges into the Cooper Hewitt bags which ended up being a HUGE hit. With grades 3/4 we took time allowing families to come share their creations.
Following the same schedule, this time over two nights, we had the PK-2 students create baskets that could hold the most weight for Little Red Riding Hood. Families took different approaches and it was amazing to watch them interact with each other. Some worries how it would look in the end while others just wanted it to be strongest no matter what the design was. At one point I walked over to a second grader hand weaving a handle. It is awesome how much I learn about the students from these projects.
The grade 3-4 project was probably my favorite of all time (so far). Families had to build a chair out of cardboard and duct tape that would hold a team member for 60 seconds. For this challenge, it was amazing to see families team up and tackle the challenge together. Originally they all chose the smallest student but by the end, every parent wanted their chair to hold them.