They have brains in their head
And feet in their shoes
And are learning to steer themselves
In any direction they choose.
Such can be said of the students of Laurel Elementary School, who celebrated their annual STEAM Day on Feb. 22 with a daytime science fair and an evening event that combined Dr. Seuss books with science experiments. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
The entire student body participated in the science fair. Students in kindergarten through second grade worked on projects in their classes that allowed them to learn the scientific method. Students in third through fifth grades were tasked with creating their own experiments and conducting them at home following the scientific method.
Guest judges reviewed the students' efforts and awarded ribbons to the top three projects in each grade. The judges included four librarians from the Laurel Branch Library and four members of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority, which partners with Laurel Elementary regularly.
Third-grade ribbon winners were: Nevaeh West, first place; Giovanni Mitchell, second place; and Sumayya Khan, third place.
Fourth-grade ribbon winners were: Adrian Ard, first place; Nicole Barahona, second place; and Gloria Perez-Arias, third place.
Fifth-grade ribbon winners were: Nicolas Meadows, first place; Lauren Evans, second place; and Isaiah Wilkins, third place.
Adrian, whose experiment explored how the size of tires on radio control cars affect the time they travel; and Nicolas, whose experiment asked whether the air pressure of a ball affects its bounce height, will go on to compete in the Prince George's County science fair in May.
That evening, dozens of students and their families returned to the school to view the science fair experiments and participate in engineering projects. Families were grouped into teams that each read a different Dr. Seuss book and then undertook an engineering challenge related to the book.
One group read "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" and then had to build a hot air balloon. The Lorax team had to figure out how to distribute Thneeds efficiently. Catapults were constructed by the "Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!" team. The Cat in the Hat team built hat towers.
Faculty members Heather Kampmann, who teaches fourth-grade science, social studies and health; and Gwendolyn Worrell-Carter, a math teacher, coordinated the STEAM events.
Speaking of competition, there was a fierce one on Feb. 26 as St. Philip's Episcopal Church held its annual chili cook-off. About 60 guests enjoyed the music of Bobby Walters while they feasted on chili, cornbread and desserts and voted for their favorites in each category.
John Brinton's chili must be amazing because he claimed first place for best chili for the fourth time in five years. Second place went to Shannon Toole and third place went to Lisa Dolan. Shannon also won first place for best cornbread, with Kama Hamilton in second place and Debbie Dusterwald in third place. Best dessert winners were Eileen Collins in first place, Kevin Logan in second place and Susan Miranda in third place.
The cook-off raised $900 for the St. Philip's annual Community Thanksgiving Day Dinner, when the church serves a free turkey dinner to hundreds in the Laurel area.