On Wednesday, Oct. 23, Polo Park Middle School hosted its seventh annual Night of Science to celebrate all things STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related. The aroma of various food trucks wafted through the air as people meandered through the campus, exploring interesting exhibits and student science fair projects.
The free event was presented by the South Florida Science Museum, Polo Park’s engineering students and National Junior Honor Society members, who helped out by running exhibits, greeting visitors and helping visitors find their way around.
“After the food trucks, [people come] to see their own science fair projects and then the hands-on activities,” explained Polo Park teacher Shaun Stabler, a faculty host and supervisor for the event. “For us, we want to have parents want to come and see their kids’ exciting projects, get hands-on with science and see how science isn’t just in the classroom. Science happens all around us.”
Attendees engaged their minds with fun exhibits in the gym. Among these exhibits were a 3-D printer, virtual reality and even a bearded dragon. Another crowd pleaser was the Scholastic Book Fair, drawing many attendees to the school library. Run by the Parent Teacher Student Association and librarian Nora Bernstein, all book fair profits benefit Polo Park’s library program.
This year, Polo Park added something new and exciting to this event: a planetarium. The planetarium was operated for people hoping to get a glimpse of space. “This is the first year we’re running it ourselves,” Stabler said. “It was donated to us by the Science Museum. You can see the phases of the moon and the constellations and stars.”
Apart from the planetarium and food trucks, the students loved coming to see their own science fair projects. Displays of student science fair experiments were set up in the cafeteria, media center and gym for all to see.
“I was slightly embarrassed to see mine,” said Hannah Katon, a Polo Park eighth grader. “It was really fun seeing my friends’ projects though.”
The food trucks, always one of the most popular spots during Science Night, were from PS 561, Crazilicious, Dough Dough’s Donuts, Melted Madness, Best French Fries and Kona Ice. A DJ in the courtyard played fun, exciting music to help add some extra energy to the evening.
The PTSA also was on hand, providing memberships, selling Polo Park hoodies, signing people up for the school newsletter and offering the community information about volunteering and sponsorship opportunities. They even had some candy and raffles.
Nearly 1,000 people attended the event and plans for next year’s science night are already underway. Stabler would like to see the engineering department keep growing the hands-on challenges and would like to continue working more with the planetarium.