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Muckraker: Battaglia: Carroll Schools highlight STEAM (STEM + Arts) in February

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Science, Technology, the Arts, and Math (STEAM), were on full display at two different age group schools in Carroll County in February, as Manchester Valley High School held their “The Voice” competition, while Freedom Elementary School held their PTA sponsored STEM Fair.

“The Voice” competition at Manchester Valley High School

“The Voice” competition featured eleven students singing the song of their choice in full. The three celebrity judges were each Carroll County Public School staff members. Two of the staff members are experts in music, and one is an expert in student services.

Just like the popular TV show, the judges sit with their chair turned, not seeing the singer, and will turn their chair when they hear something they like. There may have not been a big red button for the judges to hit to turn their chairs, but there was excitement as all three judges turned for each singer at different times.

Two judges gave feedback to contestants after their songs, all words of encouragement, saying things like like: “Great stage presence, great song choice, dang, rocking it, nailed it, very expressive, goosebumps, wow, felt the performance, watched the reaction of the audience being happy, so fun to listen too, made it your own, loved your energy, and incredible”.

Before the judges went backstage to narrow down the eleven to the top three, last year’s winner performed “Killing Me Softly”. The judges said the performer sang “effortlessly”.

The final three sang a different song they picked one more time. This time, the audience cast their votes for the winner. After all the votes were counted, the winner for this year was a senior who sang “ Stone Cold” and “All I Ask”.

This annual event is a fundraiser that helps fund the MVHS Performing Arts Boosters. They are currently preparing for their spring performance, “Footloose”.

STEM Fair at Freedom Elementary School

The PTA sponsored STEM Fair is an annual event for all grade levels. This was the 20th year for the event. Over 40 students from kindergarten to 5th grade participated in this creative and educational experience, which asks students to highlight one particular area of interest that is part of STEM.  

At the entrance of the elementary school, the Principal welcomed the students, families and guests. In the cafeteria and the gym, you would find the students with their projects displayed. The trifold stood on the table, as the student sat in front of their project. As spectators walked up to the display, the student would describe what their project was about, and how they came up with the idea. 

Three kindergarten students had projects on disappearing skittles, which pirate ship would sail through the night, and musical water. 

Eleven first graders presented projects which cereal had the most sugar, coding, best popcorn, seed growing, gummy bear osmosis, slime, bathbooms, making paint, fasteners, liquid layers, and even burmese pythons. 

Four second graders presented projects on changing cheese, basketball science, what melts ice, and osmosis gummy bears. 

In the gym were the third graders, fourth graders and fifth graders. Five third graders presented projects on chromatography, volcanoes, hamster run race, ballon car racing, and crazy crystals.

Eight fourth graders had projects on lunar navigation, homemade flashlight, strength, two students did bubbles from bubble gum, dog training with a bell, moving objects with sound, and oatmeal temperature testing, (testing the fairy tale of Goldilocks). 

The fifth graders had six participants with popcorn testing, melting ice, geothermal, burrowing, power plays with soccer and football, and DNA. 

The work all these students put into their presentations was amazing. I asked each student about their projects, how they came up with the idea, and the students described their demonstrations. It was evident that the students were very proud of their work, and I made sure to tell them how great they did. I saw many parents smiling in delight of their child as they described their projects not just to myself, but also to the peer reviewers. 

CCPS has so many activities throughout each school that bring the students and families together in various ways. It takes a lot of work from the volunteers to put together amazing events like “The Voice” competition and the STEM Fair. It’s the hard work of our teachers and staff that the students feel encouraged to participate in activities. It takes a lot of work for the students to prepare to sing in front of strangers or to put together a project that they have a hypothesis about. There is no doubt, the students of CCPS are full STEAM ahead with their achievements.

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