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Families "Light Up" the Winter Solstice in the Delran Innovation & Fabrication Lab

Families learned all about the science behind the Winter Solstice, created light-up, pop-up cards and other crafts, and enjoyed some snacks at a STEM family engagement event on December 4.

We all know the sun sets much earlier in winter, and kids can't play outside after dinner anymore, but families at DelranSTEM's Light Up the Winter Solstice event know why! The evening started with a BrainPOP video and the children's book The Shortest Day. Attendees learned how the tilt of the earth's axis affects how much daylight we get at different times of year, and how this has influenced traditions and celebrations in cultures around the world.

Families rotated through stations, completing activities related to the Winter Solstice. By the time they left the Lab, families had created several projects, and received a packet of additional activities to try at home.

Families created Pomander balls using oranges and cloves, and strung garlands with popcorn, dried orange slices, cranberries, and laser-cut stars. Scroll through the images above!

Family engagement events are instrumental in fulfilling DelranSTEM's mission of STEM for ALL. Our goal is to reach as many learners as possible, including both students and adults. The Light Up the Winter Solstice event helped us welcome more than 100 learners into the Lab in just one night! It is amazing to see parents and children engaging in STEM activities together while at the event, and we strive to provide information that will support parents and families as they inspire and encourage their young STEM learners at home. Early experiences with STEM, including exposure to various STEM career possibilities, help develop a STEM identity in young children. This helps encourage them to maintain an interest in STEM subjects as they grow up, and informed parents can nurture a growth mindset and an attitude of perseverance in their children.

STEM Ambassador Andrew Menson helps younger students create digitally fabricated pop-up cards using FabMakerStudio software and a paper die-cut machine.

STEM Ambassador and DHS sophomore Andrew Menson said, “I think last night’s event was a great way to both celebrate the upcoming winter solstice and showcase the lab’s capabilities to everyone interested. Our visitors were able to learn about the solstice itself while also getting to channel their creativity with the related arts and crafts project. They even got exposed to electrical engineering with the circuit that they built to light their sun.”

Kirby Slear, with DelranSTEM partner Schneider Electric, helps a family create a circuit to light up their card, using copper tape, an LED light, and a battery.
Families create copper tape circuits on the back of their cards.

STEM Ambassador Sera Lukens helps a student with her pop-up card.

DHS senior and STEM Ambassador Sera Lukens said, "I noticed that the parents and children were both equally proud of their creation. The parents worked together with their children to make the card unique and even captured their artwork in a photo. In general, everyone seemed earnestly cheerful and excited to learn something new. I think the STEM Ambassadors got a lot out of it too by getting the chance to interact with the younger children and help them create something special, yet at the same time intriguing young minds to think in the realm of STEM." Check out all of the proud innovators in the photo gallery slideshow below! Click the left & right arrows to see more photos!

Special thanks to the Delran STEM Ecosystem Alliance partners who sponsored this event: Schneider Electric, Delran Schools, The Delran Elementary PTO, The Delran Education Association, and the Delran Principals & Supervisors Association. Additional STEM Family Engagement events for the 19-20 school year are planned to coincide with New Jersey STEM Month in March, as well as with the annual Delran STEM Fair in May.

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