The lights flashing from Baker Place Elementary on Monday evening looked like the workings of Clark Griswold or homeowners competing in a Christmas light show contest, but the 30-minute extravaganza was designed, organized and planned by people that can’t even drive to the store to purchase lights.
The Baker Place Epic Holiday Light Show was created and organized by fifth-grade students who used science, technology, engineering, art and math to put on the light show. STEAM teacher Marie Blindauer said students began working on the project in October and finished just one hour before the show. Split into project teams including public relations, safety, programming and blueprinting, the project allowed them to showcase their individual abilities.
“It’s given them ownership for not only their learning but their talents,” Blindauer said.
Thousands of twinkling and flashing lights spanned the length of the front of the school. The project was sponsored by Georgia Power, Lowe’s, Clifton and Associates and the Smith family. Georgia Power has sponsored multiple projects in schools across the CSRA to help prepare students for the workforce in trade areas.
“We recognized years ago that we have to help be part of the solution to deliver the next generation of STEM-based employees to all of this area but also to Georgia Power,” Kerry Bridges, area manager for Georgia Power, said.
From Trans Siberian Orchestra tunes to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You,” the students voted on their favorite holiday tunes and designed the lights to fit the music with the help of a computer program.
“So if the music goes dun dun dun the lights go boom boom boom,” student project manager Jasmine Franco, 11, said. “It goes with the rhythm or beat of the song.”
Franco admits she knew nothing about circuits when beginning the project but quickly learned as she and her classmates prepared the show. She credits Blindauer’s teaching ability to how quickly she learned about it.
“She is such a great teacher. It has been such a great learning experience and I’m so happy we got this experience,” she said. “It’s not your normal sitting in a classroom. You’re involved and it’s a different perspective on learning.”
Blindauer said she hopes the light show will inspire other schools to do similar programs because students are capable of doing big things.
“When kids see something and they’re amazed and mesmerized, you just helped them realize ’you can do this. You have the knowledge and you can use this,’” she said. “I feel like so many times students learn for tests and that’s it.”