First-graders use toothpicks and marshmallows for building.

First-graders use toothpicks and marshmallows for building.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Students let off some STEAM

By: Linda Shepard | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 26, 2018


BLOOMFIELD HILLS  —  Clouds of wet vapor filled the classroom as excited  fifth- and sixth-grade students learned some principles of science and math Nov. 16 at St. Hugo of the Hills Catholic School.

“They are learning about the water cycle,” said teacher Marisa Rosenbaum. While combining dry ice with hot water and food coloring, the students learned about fog, clouds, tornadoes, temperatures and wind chill effects.

The session was part of the school’s annual STEAM Day, when St. Hugo immerses students in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics throughout the school day.  

Members of Science with the Engineers — a group of former automotive engineers who arrive at elementary and middle schools in their own ambulance — led the dry ice project.

“We want to show kids what engineers do,” said Tom Chaput, who retired from General Motors. “This is our 19th year. We’ve done 1,100 classroom presentations all over southeast Michigan.”

“I think being an engineer would be a really fun career,” said fifth-grader Caroline Torok, 10. “Last year, with the same guys, we made seat belts for eggs that we had on a string in a glider.”

The school’s annual STEAM Day includes innovative activities and student-generated experiments. Older students team up with younger students to create masterpieces, solve complex problems, invent products and experience physics.

“Kids really like the hands-on activity,” St. Hugo Principal Joe Vincler said.

Across the hall from the water cycle project, volunteer nurses presented CPR training to the school’s seventh- and eighth-graders.

“We have certified nurses here,” Vincler said. “This is part of our heart-safe school certification, so the students are certified CPR trained. We are very grateful these nurses trained the coaches and teachers, and now the students.”

In other classrooms, students from older grades helped younger students create mazes with marbles and paper, and fourth-graders made “puff mobiles” of card stock with round candy wheels. Another group built plastic straw rafts and experimented to see how many pennies the rafts could hold before sinking in a bucket of water.

Vincler said STEAM Day is in its third year at the school.

“We now have a STEAM-certified teacher,” he said. “It is a day everyone gets excited about.”

For more information about St. Hugo of the Hills Catholic School, visit For more information about Science with the Engineers, visit