For the past 13 years, Cypress Systems employees have shown their gratitude to the local community by hosting an event at a nearby elementary school in Fresno, California. This year more than 230 kids, from Miquel Hildalgo Elementary School, participated in a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) event called “Shooting with the Stars." From Rockets to Space Orbs to Spaceship Bots and Alien Slime. It was a frenzy of educational fun!
JPW3, a non-profit founded by Paul A. Willis CEO of Cypress Systems, chose this underprivileged school 13 years ago to fund a special Christmas party every year to bring a message of love, the spirit of giving and a unique educational component. Instead of just handing out gifts, Paul teamed up with local Maker and Community Builder, Melody Boates, to bring out the creative Maker and Artist in all these kids. Volunteers ranged from Fresno State University to the First Team 3303 Robotics high school team, to the teachers and staff at Cypress Systems.
Shooting with the Stars STEAM Project
The volunteers designated each grade with a space themed STEAM project. They also helped build the individual kits for each student, created a budget, wrote up instructions, designed decorations, garnered the help of even more volunteers to get hands on with the kids as they put their creativity in motion. Depending on how long each kit took to make, the kids could play with their project and/or go build and launch paper rockets 50ft into the air, get their face painted, play a game of corn hole or gigantic connect four.
First graders made Space Poppers with cut down pool noodles, duct tape, balloons and mini pom-poms. Second graders stole the show with their Space Blasters, made from PVC piping and decorated with colored duct tape. There were all kinds of creative configurations with no safe place to hide from the barrage of marshmallows and pom-poms.
Third graders made Space Orbs with LED lights, glitter pipe cleaners, tinsel and clear ornament bulbs, while the fourth graders were getting their hands dirty in mixing up some alien slime with glue starch, glitter and food coloring.
The fifth graders were hard at work putting together Catapults from the Central Valley's local Makerspace, Ideaworks, to launch recycled corks at the cup castles.
Lastly, the sixth graders took the lead in technology for the day by putting together Spaceship Bots with recycled CD’s, plastic lids and learning to connect motors to switches and powering them with AAA batteries and watching them warble around the room with trailing tinsel.
It was pretty evident in the end from the carnage of cups, the flurry of smiles and a cafeteria floor full of sticky marshmallows and colorful slime that the afternoon of STEAM activities brighten the hearts and minds of all of us this year.