NORMAN PARK, Ga. — Norman Park Elementary School had its first STEAM Science Day on Thursday with the aid of Sparkpoint Innovations, an interactive in-school program that teaches both geology and astronomy programs to students from kindergarten to eighth grade. Sparkpoint brought its famous Big Canyon Balloon to the gymnasium to showcase the wonders of the world around us to students throughout the day.
Head Teacher of the Canyon Bailey Anderson and Georgia Support Teacher Amy Cooley taught students about the different types of rocks found on earth as well as where they come from.
“We are teaching weathering, erosion and deposition which are concepts that are very hard to teach in the classroom. They can be tricky to teach out of a textbook because they are very abstract concepts, so what we do is we bring the fun to science by traveling with a massive 30-foot tall canyon inflatable that we bring to middle schools and elementary schools all around Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina so that they can experience all the different facets of earth science,” said Anderson.
Together, Anderson and Cooley taught about 600 students of Norman Park Elementary School about erosion and weathering and fossils through song, dance and a word wall alongside the giant inflatable canyon.
“It’s great for them to see different dynamics. I understand that students aren’t able to get out on field trips as much, so we bring the field trip to them,” Anderson said. “Some students aren’t able to see what a canyon looks like in real life, depending on where they’re living and if they can travel, so they have to rely on reading about them. So, we bring the canyon to them so that they can understand what it is rather than just reading about it.”
STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. It is a Department of Education initiative to increase science literacy in students throughout grades K through 12.
“Our focus this year has been on science,” said Norman Park Elementary STEAM teacher Jennifer Merritt. “Even though we’re using technology and we’ve covered engineering and incorporated art, I’m really trying to cover science to help the teachers in the classroom. There’s so much in science to cover in the Georgia standards that the kids need more practice and time to develop an understanding. So if the teachers cover it in their classroom and I bring it into the STEAM classroom and really work on it, it really gets stuck in their heads and they have a better understanding.”