By Staff     1/4/2018

In a galaxy far, far away, more than 500 learners and parents at The Parish School at St. Edward the Confessor enjoyed a star-filled night of creativity, learning and astronomy at the annual Fall Family STREAM Night. A cornerstone of The Parish School curriculum, the STREAM educational philosophy (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Art, and Math) comes to life twice yearly where learners and their families explore and create interactive STREAM activities in each of the classrooms. The space-themed projects this year included: Alka Seltzer rockets in the Upper School Science Lab; star constellations with marshmallows and toothpicks; egg parachutes; chopstick balancing; coding robots with iPads; creating a star magnitude gauge; and observing static electricity with magnetic tinsel and a balloon. 

“True to our philosophy of Always Learning, our Family STREAM nights creatively demonstrate concepts like gravity, navigation, force, motion, robotics and stars in a fun and interactive way,” says Mr. Noah Loungarikis, a 7th and 8th grade math teacher at The Parish School, a University of Notre Dame Trustey STEM Fellow and faculty leader of the STREAM Task Force. “By making learning fun, and incorporating fellowship and learner-led projects, we are encouraging creativity, dialogue and critical thinking, which leads to a deeper understanding of important STREAM concepts.” 

In addition to the classroom projects, learners and their families were inspired in the Meet the Maker session with Mike Senna, an Orange County robotic engineer who has built several life-size movie robot replicas from scratch, including R2-D2, Wall-E and BB-8. Senna talked about Hollywood prop making and how these sophisticated robots are created. He even brought his signature R2-D2 for the children to take photographs with. 

Learners also got to test their measurement and chemical engineering skills during the Out of This World dessert contest with entries including Astronaut Ice Cream, Galaxy Deathstar Cookies, Alien Life Pops, and an End-of-the-World Cake. Categories included Most Creative, Best Tasting and Best Overall Presentation. Teachers voted for the top entries and first, second and third prizes were awarded in each division, earning learners coveted Amazon gift cards. 

Although the fog and clouds may have prevented star-gazing with the OC Astronomers, the night sky was still lit up as the learners ran through the field with their handmade light sabers crafted from toilet paper tubes, duct tape and led lights.  

Through the hallways, comments from learners and parents included, “It’s fun to be at school at night;” “I love Star Wars…I love that we have R2-D2 here…not sure who’s more thrilled, me or my children;” and, “It’s so funny to see all the light sabers swarming through the hallways!”  

The Parish School STREAM Task Force is already hard at work scheduling the Spring Family STREAM night on March 14, 2018. Although the exact theme is to be determined, the event will involve a Maker Faire, where learners can build and create their own innovative STREAM projects.