Bella Lemont (5/Kindergarten) strategically loads her tinfoil boat in a pan of water to test its seaworthiness at OES Reads! Family Night last Thursday. Buy this Photo

OXFORD —  In what turned out to be its final event before temporarily closing, Oxford Elementary School students and their families descended on the school Thursday night as part of its OES Reads! program.

Family Night is just one event during a month-long mission to get books into the hands of all kids. This year Reads! was combined with STEM projects. OES reading interventionists Laura Foley and Jane Strauss gave a presentation to parents on ways that STEM learning connects to literacy.

Pre-K student Liliana Tripp, 4, focuses on getting an empty can to chase a balloon using static electricity at OES’s Family Night Reads! on Thursday. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat Buy this Photo

Trail mix packs, dubbed “scat snacks,” were handed out to all kids and they were given a wide variety of STEM activities to participate in.

Liliana Tripp coaxes her can over the finish line during a balloon static race at OES’ Family Night Reads! last Thursday. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat Buy this Photo

STEM inspired activities included boat building, where children fashioned their own tin foil boats to float in a pan of water. Each builder loaded their boat with a cargo of loose change to see how much weight their boat could support before it sank.

Teachers assisted students in an egg drop challenge. Using cardboard, plastic bags, newspapers and other materials, kids built protective contraptions for their egg and dropped them from second floor windows to see how the eggs could survive their fall.

Fallon Demers (5/Kindergarten) settles in the reading tent with the mathematics book “How Much is a Million?” at Oxford Elementary School’s Family Night Reads! last Thursday. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat Buy this Photo

Kids could also build towers using toothpicks, gum drops and mini-marshmellows and create paper robots and use pennies for balancing experiments. They also participated in a balloon static race where they created static electricity with balloons to push an empty soda can across a table.

“Reading tents” were set up for kids to have a quiet place to read some of the STEM-related books on display.

Andrew Arntsen (5/Kindergarten) and his mother Rebekah of Oxford read a book about eagles at Oxford Elementary School’s Family Night Reads!. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat Buy this Photo

As part of the overall celebration, sixth grade students collaborated earlier on a project to choose a school pet, which in the end evolved into a choice for a school reptile. All students at Family Night got the chance to vote on three finalists – a rosy boa snake, a turtle, or a lizard.

Much to the relief of faculty and staff, the lizard won the final tally. Oxford Elementary School will become the future home for a yet-to-be-selected rainbow gecko.

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