Salt River High School Hosts First-ever STEAM Night
Salt River High School will be brimming with curiosity, creativity and collaboration when students and families gather for STEAM Night Jan. 24. This will be the first STEAM Night hosted by SRHS and the interactive event is open to the Community.
STEAM Night celebrates innovative learning in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics and aims to develop ongoing and long-term student interest and engagement in those areas. It replaces the science fair model, a format that values individuality and project discussion; STEAM projects feature hands-on collaboration.
“As with life, skill sets are interwoven throughout tasks, events and accomplishments,” said SRHS Principal Jon Gentile. “We are excited to have an opportunity where our students can publically demonstrate their collaborative talents and acquired knowledge to reflect the relevance, the integration and the application of their coursework.”
Salt River Schools Superintendent Dr. Louis Laffitte, Jr., agreed. “STEAM Night at Salt River Schools has the unique opportunity and ability to make genuine connections through the extra influence Native culture and language has within each STEAM area.”
O’odham culture, for instance, shows heavy evidence of STEAM aspects, including expertise within sustainable agriculture, engineering desert-friendly homes and irrigation canals, as well as intricate works of art.
“Recognizing the importance of Indigenous cultures and that those cultural elements are inherent within every aspect of STEAM is essential, because our students often walk in two worlds,” said Alvin Saenz, the Parent and Community Involvement Specialist at SRHS who helped plan STEAM Night. “That requires finding a balance in an ever-changing technological society while also preserving personal and Community heritage and culture values.”
Teacher Selina Graves’ environmental science class will feature their ecocolumn (or vertical garden) project at STEAM Night. With recycled elements like wood scraps, plastic soda bottles and milk jugs, Graves’ students used the ecocolumns to explore several types of ecosystems, including the components within each ecosystem, the conditions required for sustainability and water quality and the interconnections between the various chambers composing the column.
“The idea of water being a sacred natural asset to Earth is being disrupted by society,” said Graves, noting that many SRHS students follow what’s happening in Standing Rock to protect the Missouri River against the Dakota Access Pipeline. “Learning to measure quality standards of water will be thoroughly practiced and learned. … We’ll look at an overused natural resource like water and how we can use it in ways that it will not be wasted.”
With this project, the students are learning to secure and maintain their own food sources, as well, Graves added.
“The purity of a seed and the methods used to grow and conserve it will help them understand the importance of techniques and methods used by their ancestors in this Community and other tribes,” Graves said.
STEAM Night features several activities and challenges for visitors to experience, including a robotics demonstration, building bridges and roller coasters, an art/math combo featuring π (pi, or the numerical ratio equaling 3.14) and more. Students and families will venture from room to room on an ongoing, rotating schedule.