Activities spark imagination and fun during ZI3 ‘adventures’

Nicole A. Hawley
Staff writer
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Posted 4/4/19

WESTMORELAND — From making slime and parachutes to launching rockets and commanding robots, children, along with their parents and grandparents, enjoyed a night of fun, hands-on learning during the …

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Activities spark imagination and fun during ZI3 ‘adventures’

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WESTMORELAND — From making slime and parachutes to launching rockets and commanding robots, children, along with their parents and grandparents, enjoyed a night of fun, hands-on learning during the ZI3 Science Technology Engineering Art Math Adventure Night at Westmoreland Upper Elementary School March 27.

Participants in grades kindergarten through eighth, along with their adult partner, had the opportunity to select from an array of interactive activities they chose an interest in and all the sessions were full. A $5 donation was collected with all proceeds going to support the Utica Zoo, which was also there with their team and a few animal friends to showcase.

A personalized agenda was created for each child, with students, parents and grandparents traveling from room-to-room to explore different events and activities.

With spring in the air, Matthew Bashant and Paula Larkin from Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES demonstrated to students how to experiment with different angles to project their rocket the furthest distance. Rockets were then set off in the playground area outside. But before their rockets could hit the air, teams had to adjust their rocket launching device to hit a specific target.

After some science and physics came an activity in engineering. STEAM elementary teacher Kristen Riggles hosted the “Egg-cellent Parachute” Engineering Challenge. There pupils worked with parents to create a parachute with coffee maker filters and other light-weight paper products. The purpose of the parachute was to save a plastic egg filled with beans from crashing to the floor, only using the materials they were provided.

Small mad scientists and their parents learned the chemistry behind making their own homemade slime with sixth grade science teacher Eric Pacicca. Soon kids’ hands were full of goo made from glue, baking soda, shaving cream and eye contact cleaning solution.

Art teacher Stephanie Bevins showed students and parents the science behind monoprinting, with everyone creating their own jelly print. Monoprinting is a form of printmaking that has lines or images that can only be made once, unlike most printmaking, which allows for multiple original designs. All the participants got the chance to take home an original piece of art.

Over in the upper elementary school gymnasium, math got physical with the Jump2Math activity. With giant floor mats, teachers Wendy Bonomo, Julie DeMichele, Mary Sorensen and Bonnie VanDreason hosted interactive math games.

Students, moms and dads also got to see a helicopter and climb Mount Everest while still sitting in their seats using special viewers during the Virtual Reality tour with librarian Allison Livermore.

A big hit with all ages of attendees was the Utica Zoomobile presentation held in the cafeteria. There, participants were introduced to three special guests: a tortoise, a vocal kestrel and large rabbit. During the presentation, everyone learned about the animals’ habitats and even had the opportunity to pet them.

Coder Eric Boisen and his STEM students showed off their catapults and the computer coding behind how to make them work. Coder Cate Reynolds also discussed with parents the Marvel Superhero project she is working on with host and ZI3 Coordinator Lisa Davis.

Also contributing to the evening of fun and learning was Patrick Cardillo, of the Information Technology department, Debbie Gutowski and Rebecca Burrows, who helped with registration, directing families and assisting in the stations. Davis, along with Principal Stephen Polera and a few sixth grade students, helped set up the gymnasium activities and create the cafeteria area sensory walk.

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