Cover Story

How do engineers keep tall structures from tumbling? Samira Dockerty (left) enjoys the tumbling tower experiment in the SRES Library.

Salt River Elementary School Hosts STEM Family Night

By Sheila Begay
Au-Authm Action News

On Monday, November 25, Salt River Elementary School (SRES) hosted its first-ever Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Family Night. Salt River Elementary is one of seven schools in Arizona to be selected as a pilot site for the Helios STEM School Pilot Program. At STEM Family Night, students and their families experienced an evening of science projects and hands-on experiments.

Salt River Elementary is part of a strategic partnership and investment by Helios and Science Foundation Arizona to help the Arizona STEM Network develop a coordinated and effective STEM education system that provides the infrastructure, resources and metrics needed to improve educational outcomes and achieve a collective impact for Arizona students.

“It’s just the beginning. What’s great about it is it brings families together, and everyone is a young scientist. STEM is all about problem-solving and getting kids to be creative thinkers,” said Erik Haarstad, principal of SRES.

The seven Arizona pilot sites will receive a total of $1.85 million in grant funding, and “SRES will receive approximately $270,000 in financial and technical support to implement STEM programs and activities [over the next three years]. We will be able to provide professional development for our teachers, send some kids to summer camps, upgrade current science material and more,” said Lynette Charlie, teacher at SRES. The pilot schools were chosen in April 2013 from a statewide pool of 57 applicants.

Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony, students and their families explored the different experiments and vendors stationed in the SRES cafeteria, library and classrooms. They learned about motors, rockets, water, solar power, stargazing and batteries. A popular experiment was the Egg-Drop Challenge, in which students try to drop an egg from increasing heights without breaking it. This took place in the school’s courtyard, where the Salt River Fire Department assisted by extending their ladder for the drops. Vendors and the Salt River Tribal Library donated various items, such as a Kindle Fire reader and a telescope, to be raffled off. Pizza was served to those in attendance.

Vendors attending the event and sponsoring science activities included the Arizona Science Center, Butterfly Wonderland, Science Foundation Arizona, the Eagle Club Culture Class, Intel, Tribal Environmental Protection: Wildlife Biology, Arizona Technology Education Association and the Renaissance Fair. The S.T.E.P. Program assisted with various experimental booths.

“The Eagle Club Culture Class participated in this event to teach the kids about culture—past, present and future—and bringing science into it by doing different experiments. When we do science, it helps the students to understand how these things happen, such as shell etching,” said Teresa Gonzales, SRPMIC school instructional aide.

For more information about STEM and Science Foundation Arizona, visit Visit the Salt River Elementary School Web site at

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