R-MA students participate in day of STEAM

Randolph-Macon Academy science teacher Hannah Bement teaches a session on chemical and physical reactions, assisted by eighth-grader Natalie Pugh, at R-MA’s STEAM learning day. Courtesy photo

In honor of Randolph-Macon Academy’s 125th anniversary, 42 fifth- through eighth-grade students from R-MA and the Warren County community came together Feb. 18 for a day of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) learning at R-MA Middle School.

Lorien Lemmon, a volunteer with the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, opened the morning with a roller coaster design-build using pool noodles, cardboard tubes, marbles and other tools. Following that, students divided into groups and spent the morning rotating through four mini-labs that involved hands-on topics in physics, chemistry and biological sciences.

Kara Lewallen and fellow R-MA science teacher Col. John Casserino taught a session on static electricity, electrons and how generators work, building a mini Van De Graaff

“Don’t OverREACT with Chemistry” led by R-MA science teachers Hannah Bement and Samadara Jayarathne explored forms of chemical and physical reactions ending with creating a tower of exploding foam.

R-MA science teacher Dr. Nicholas Bongio taught “Floating with the Microbes,” which  explored microscopic forms of life in  local water systems as well as the creation of a mud battery.

Friends of the National Zoo Education Programs Specialist Kristin Black, who began her career working with animals at SeaWorld, and Dr. James McNeil, of the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation, led the session “Effects of Lyme Disease on Humans and Wildlife.”

The day ended with a panel discussion led by Dr. Shamik Das, department head of the Emerging Technologies Department at The MITRE Corporation in McLean, McNeil, Black and Bement.

— From a news release