Halliday students celebrate Halloween with STEM activities
Halliday Elementary School student Brandon Gillette pulled his slime-coated hand out of the inside of his carved pumpkin and looked at fellow classmate Patton Swenson with a scrunched nose.
"It's so slimy!" he told him.
Patton grinned. "It's cool though, huh?"
Brandon didn't look so sure, but his pumpkin turned out well anyway, according to his teacher, Ethan Krebs.
The activity was part of the school's October STEM day, during which the students participate in activities related to science, technology, engineering and math.
Given the association of pumpkins with October, Krebs said they decided to make the month's STEM day pumpkin themed.
"A pumpkin is like a potato. You can pretty much do anything with it," Krebs said. "You can carve them. You can make pumpkin soup and pie and seeds. You can do a ton of stuff with them, and we just wanted to show our kids that."
They took advantage of the pumpkin's versatility, not only carving them but also making sugar-free pumpkin pies and roasting the seeds.
"After they get the pumpkin seeds out of the pumpkin, they put them in a bag, and they take them to their next station, which is making pies and salting and seasoning the seeds," Krebs said. "At the end of the day, they're going to get them all back, and they get to eat them."
The pies will refrigerate during the night, and the students will have their pies as a morning snack the following day.
Krebs said a lot of the school's kids don't get the opportunity to carve pumpkins, so they wanted to include it as one of the activities. First grader Trinity Perry was one of the kids.
She liked carving the pumpkin and said she liked removing the fibrous strands and seeds, even though it was gross.
"I want to take this home, because that way I can put a candle in it, and I can light it up and face it towards the wall," she said.
Krebs said their older students practiced geometry prior to the day and used shapes they learned for their pumpkins.
In addition to carving and cooking, students made watercolor art and Popsicle-stick catapults.
Sharon Musick, who teaches the school's STEM class, came up with the idea for the catapults.
"We want them to think about the force and energy and see if they can come up with a catapult that's going to launch the farthest. ... I like when kids do activities hands-on," she said. "On Thursday, we'll extend it by they have to somewhat reengineer, redesign what they did today and see if they can make it go farther."
Halliday Elementary — once a high school — is now a mostly empty building that teaches 33 students in grades K-6.
Krebs said he wanted to let people know that the school is still there.
"We're just trying to show people 'Hey, we've still got a school. We're still doing stuff here. ... We're trying to keep this facility open," he said.