The first-grade classrooms at Springfield Elementary were overflowing Friday as teachers hosted a Super Bowl STEAM for dads event.
Since not all dads were available, honorary fathers – moms, uncles and grandpas – subbed into the game. Each adult-and-student pair received an envelope containing instructions to complete five tasks in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art and math – STEAM.
First-grade teacher Marcella Capaldi said for the past four years the event, called Super Bowl with Dads, only focused on math.
“This year we ungraded it to STEAM to feature growing fields like science and engineering,” she said. “Technology is a huge component in these students’ lives and for our creative and artistic students, we wanted to show them that sports events, like football, need art and creativity.”
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Math was still integrated into nearly all of the activities. However, some tasks required the students to engineer, test their work and revise if needed. Capaldi said the tasks involved more critical thinking and planning, rather than just problem solving.
Prior to “kickoff,” she explained an important rule of the game to the dads.
“Your child is the head coach on these projects. It’s going to be really easy for you to jump in, fix it and say ‘no it’s not going to work,’ but let them do it,” she said. “Because, as my class knows, when we make a mistake that’s how we know what to fix. I know it’s hard, dads, but let them take the lead.”
Riley Cooper, 6, and his mom, Carrie Cooper, started with the science activity. From a box of Legos, they built a football field, a helmet, a player and a trophy.
Carrie said on an average day she drops Riley off at school, picks him up in the afternoon and the only insight she gains is from reviewing the papers in his backpack. But events such as Super Bowl STEAM allow parents an inside peek into their child’s classroom.
“Any chance to come and see what they’re doing in school, just to be here and see how much they’re progressing, is a great opportunity,” she said.
John Jones worked with his daughter, Khloe Jones, 6, on the technology task. Students used their hand-eye coordination in a fun, football game app called Blocky Football.
“You have to try to avoid the other players and try to not get tackled,” Khloe said.
Since John’s eldest daughter is a second grader, he was a returning player to the Super Bowl event. He said he had a lot of fun last year and wanted to come back and help again.
“I believe the earlier you can learn these concepts and put the emphasis on science, technology, engineering, the arts and math, the better our kids will be and the better our country will be,” John said. “Hopefully, this will lead these kids down career paths in these areas.”
Mikey Burke, 6, and his father, Michael Burke, worked on the engineering portion of the game. The challenge involved constructing a goal post and paper football to kick over the goal post using five popsicle sticks, three rubber bands, three pipe cleaners and tape.
“This is my favorite part,” Mikey said.
Meanwhile, Summer Rhyne, 7, sat head-to-head with her father, Tommy Rhyne, as they designed a football jersey – the art task in Super Bowl STEAM.
“I have to put my name on it, then my number, then my team mascot and my two colors,” Summer said.
She chose the number 22 and a panther for her mascot, because her brother’s favorite Carolina Panther is Christian McCaffrey.
“I think it’s very important that we spend time with the kids and they’re comfortable with us being in the classroom with them and being a part of what they’re doing,” Tommy said.
Principal Peter Olinger stopped by Capaldi’s classroom to see how Super Bowl STEAM was unfolding. He said one benefit of the event is to invite the parents to come in and get involved, but it’s also about shifting to a new educational approach.
“As our district continues to go through STEAM initiatives, this is a great activity to show how we’re trying to change our curriculum and instruction so that the kids are creating and building, but still learning the same concepts,” he said. “This is a good way for them to learn.”
Jordan Counselman, 6, chose to complete the math activity first because math is his favorite subject in school.
His father, Greg Counselman, watched over Jordan’s shoulder as he solved the problems. Greg said Jordan couldn’t wait for Super Bowl STEAM.
“When he woke up this morning, he got out of bed early and was dressed before his alarm even went off,” Greg said. “That was definitely a first, it was awesome. So, I didn’t want to miss this.”
Stephanie Jadrnicek: firstname.lastname@example.org