The event aims to get kids excited about STEM in a fun way

JULIA COMNES - Students make slime out of borax, glue and paint, following instructions provided by volunteers. More than 150 students came to the Woodburn School District Maker Party, part of the Woodburn STEM Festival, on the evening of Nov. 30.

The event, held at Washington Elementary School, provided a mix of creative play time and more structured, science-based learning.

In the cafeteria, various structured activities were offered. At one table, volunteers instructed kids on how to make slime from borax, glue and paint. At another table, kids could build Lego structures out of provided diagrams.

In the hallway, students could make paper airplanes and see how far they'd fly. In the computer lab, volunteers taught kids how to code.

But the main event was the gymnasium, where piles of cardboard boxes, fabric, plastic bottles, paper cups and other materials were available for children to glue, tape, cover in stickers, cut apart, paint and otherwise transform.JULIA COMNES - Fifth-grader Irene Rodriguez (left) made a version of Whac-a-Mole out of a cardboard box and plastic water bottles.

Some children made games out of the materials, like Irene Rodriguez, a fifth-grader at Washington Elementary, who made a version of Whac-a-Mole out of a cardboard box and plastic bottles.

To play, one person climbed into the box, poking a plastic water bottle through the circular holes Rodriguez cut out of the top. A second person used another plastic bottle to hit the other bottle when it pokes out of the holes.

Rodriguez and her friends took turns being the person hitting the plastic bottle and being the person inside of the box.

"You ask the other person playing what level you want," Rodriguez said. "And they can say slow, medium or fast."

Some kids made robots out of cardboard boxes. In the back corner, children kicked a soccer ball made out of duct tape and paper into goal post made of toilet paper tubes.

The event was held as part of the Woodburn STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Festival, a program that holds events throughout the year like the Dia del NiƱo and the STEM Festival itself.

The program aims to provide students with a way to share and explore their curiosity.

Organizer Stephan Price, TAG/community outreach coordinator for the school district and one of the organizers of the event, said that the event was an opportunity for kids to play in a unique way.

"When I was growing up, we would make stuff out of whatever was available," Price said. "Kids don't really do this much anymore."

Julia Comnes covers all things Woodburn. She can be reached at 503-765-1195 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..