Hands-on learning and candy are the perfect match

Fifth grade students at Circleville Elementary took part in the 5th annual

A teacher with blond hair holding a bottle of seltzer while talking to four fifth-grade students
Andrea Urmston, a fifth-grade teacher at Circleville Elementary School, explains the experiment her students will perform.

“Trick or Treat for STEAM” on Wednesday, Oct. 31. The day revolved around various STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) activities and, of course, candy.

  • This year, students rotated through the four fifth-grade classrooms throughout the day. Learning activities included:
  • Pumpkin Structures – Using the engineering design process, students had to design, create, and test a structure that would hold a small
    A group of four fifth-grade boys huddled together to work on their experiment. One is writing on a piece of paper.
    Before they performed their experiment, the students made their hypothesis. Then, they took notes of their observations while doing the experiment.

    Dancing Ghosts and Bats – Students experimented with the concept of static electricity to make tissue paper ghosts and bats “dance” using just a balloon and their hair.
  • Pumpkin Perches – Again using the engineering design process and artistic creativity, students were charged with making a cozy perch for their pumpkins.
  • Jelly Pumpkin Dissolution and M&M Statistics – The scientific method drove the first experiment as students
    Boy in red t shirt holding up his black balloon with a piece of crepe paper attached to it
    The static electricity experiment worked!

    hypothesized the results of placing jelly pumpkin candies in water, oil, seltzer, and vinegar. While the candy sat in the liquid, students dove into M&Ms to look for trends in their data, find the average number of candies in a fun-size bag, as well as the average number of each color per bag and the overall grade level-wide averages.

    Girl with black t shirt on rubs an orange balloon on her head to cause static electricity
    Creating static electricity was fun for the students.

    Of course, the students loved being able to trick-or-treat from room to room after each rotation, but they did enjoy the learning as well. Hands-on experiences always bring lots of smiles and memories!

In 2014, the event started as “Trick or Treat for Science,” then became “Trick or Treat for STEM,” and now reflects the incorporation of art.


The idea originally stemmed from

Student in black shirt and pink and black necklace builds a structure out of plastic straws
Fifth-grade students built structures made of plastic straws.

longtime friends Andrea Urmston, fifth-grade teacher at CES, and Melissa Rancourt, founder of Greenlight for Girls (G4G). They were brainstorming ways to incorporate the mission of G4G into the classroom as well as ways to incorporate classroom realities into the organization. With a mutual love of candy, chocolate in particular, they decided that no better day existed for such an event than Halloween.

For more information on the global organization Greenlight for Girls, visit their website or Facebook page.

Pine Bush Central School District
State Route 302, Pine Bush, NY 12566
Phone: (845) 744-2031
Fax: (845) 744-6189
Tim O. Mains
Superintendent of Schools
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