STEAM-A-POLOOZA comes to Kromrey

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By any measure, Kromrey fifth-graders had a blast at the school's Inaugural STEAM-A-POLOOZA event on Friday, Dec. 16.

More than 260 students attended three 45-minute sessions in the morning. Classes had the opportunity to select from 16 presentations and organizer and fifth-grade teacher Jessa Nagy said every class was able to see its top two selections.

To see more photos from Friday's program, please visit the District Facebook page.

Nagy said fifth-grade teachers started discussing earlier this year the best way to keep students engaged the day before winter break and STEAM-A-POLOOZA evolved from there.

"One of the most uplifting parts came Friday afternoon after students returned from lunch,'' Nagy said. "The classroom converations and overall energy was truly amazing.''

Nagy also noted that fifth-grade teachers hvae received many e-mails from parents thanking them for holding the sessions and sharing how excited students were to talk about the event when they arrived home that evening.

STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. There was at least one session available in each area. Some of the guest presentations included:

  • UW-Madison professor Robert Redfield covered kidney transplants and the day in the life of a surgeon.
  • UW-Madison professor Blake Smith discussed the use of radiation in physics.
  • Molly Stiffler, a recruiter and implementation leader at EPIC, covered the business' work environment and new technology in patient care.
  • Ben Nelms, founder of Canis Lupus, showed students how math, science and technology help physicians see in side the human body.
  • Kelly Toltzien, who works at Madison Art Therapy, provided a mindfulness session based on art.
  • UW-Madison researchers and weather forecasters Wayne and Jolene Feltz explored weather data using gadgets and apps.
  • UW-Madison professor David Anderson showed how mathematics, and particularly calculus, help solve some of life's more challenging problems.
  • Mike Mundth gave students a lesson on sound and audio technology and even had them produce a short song.

Other sessions were run by Kromrey staff, District administrators and even Clark Street Community School alumni Tyler Brunsell and Corey Dean, who led a hip hop dance presentation.

"The presenters were very impressed with the leve of student engagement, positive behavior and overall gratitude of the students,'' said Nagy, who noted the vast majority of presenters also asked if they could participate again next year.

"This is awesome,'' said fifth-grade teacher Carol Pincombe, who was helping with the Mindfulness Through Art presentation during the first 45-minute session. "The students have been completely blown away. I wish we could do this more often.''

Nagy said she hopes to make it an annual event and possibly even a full day. She would like to move the date, however, as it conflicted with final exams at UW-Madison, which limited the number of guest presenters. She also plans to survey students and staff about the program after winter break.