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Brookside Brings Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to Baldwin

Watch Video of Brookside's Parade

Kindergartners and Second Graders Collaborate on Innovative STEM Project 

Brookside Elementary School kindergartners and second graders watched their ideas literally take flight during an innovative STEM project, where they recreated the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. For the third year in a row, the students learned about the engineering and design process for hot air balloons through the unique hands-on learning experience encompassing computer coding, art design, videography, and ingenuity.

  “Our kindergarten and second grade students did an amazing job bringing the Thanksgiving parade to Brookside,” said principal of Brookside, Ms. Anne Marie Squicciarini. “They created their balloons and coded their paths, all the while demonstrating that they were thinkers, innovators, collaborators, and producers. I am so proud of them and can't wait to see what great learning lies ahead.”

Connection to Baldwin 2035

Brookside’s parade was empowered by the district’s latest initiative, “Baldwin 2035,” which focuses on repositioning programs and curriculum to effectually teach and prepare students for the future.

  “The integration of the Baldwin 2035 initiative into our teaching methodology encouraged us to make an exciting shift in our learning process this year,” explained Mrs. Lauren Maywald, one of several Brookside teachers involved in the project. “Our focus was on nurturing innovation, creativity, and interdisciplinary learning. This initiative has provided a dynamic platform to explore various facets of technology, history, and design.”

The teachers merged the study of the design process and Sphero coding with an exploration of the evolution of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, according to Mrs. Maywald.

  “Students have been part of a learning journey encompassing technology, historical analysis, and hands-on crafting,” she said.  

A New Spin on an Old Tradition

Through this project, students not only delved into the intricacies of the design process and Sphero coding but also learned about the rich history behind the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. This sparked their curiosity to see how technology has evolved over time, ranging from phones and television to various forms of entertainment, such as gaming. To deepen their understanding of the parade's evolution, students engaged in an exploration of historical pictures and footage, analyzing the transformation of this iconic event throughout the years. This exploration served as a bridge between past and present, enabling them to comprehend how technology and design have continually shaped the parade.

This year's parade was taken to the next level, thanks to some creative classroom collaborations. While the second-graders had balloon duty, the kindergartners constructed marionettes. Inspired by the pioneering work of Tony Sarg for the inaugural parade in 1924, the process of crafting the marionettes fostered a hands-on educational experience that merged artistry with history. The students not only studied the mechanics of puppet-making, but also gained a profound appreciation for their historical significance.

  “Baldwin 2035 has allowed our teaching approach to evolve into a blend of technology, history, and hands-on learning,” added Brookside kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Jessica Piccarillo. “By connecting the dots between the design process, Sphero coding, and the evolution of an iconic cultural event, students are not merely absorbing information; they are actively engaged in a holistic educational experience that goes beyond traditional boundaries. As educators, we are trying to foster a learning environment that nurtures creativity, critical thinking, and an appreciation for innovation across time.”

The Brookside students and staff, alike, relished the experience and final product. The district’s education technology specialist, Ms. Michele Kourie, helped produce a video showcasing the balloon floats, which was then shared with families and is currently available on the school website for all to see. Like the original Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, what started as an innovative initiative has become a treasured holiday tradition.

In the News

The Baldwin Herald: "Brookside Elementary Students Direct Their Own Macy’s Parade"

When the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was scaled down in 2020 due to the pandemic, students at Brookside Elementary School created their own version of the parade using coding, designing and engineering. Now, three years later, the Brookside parade re-creation has become an annual tradition.

The students in kindergarten and second grade use what they learn in their science, technology, engineering, art and math, or STEAM, classes to recreate the renowned Thanksgiving event. On Nov. 20, the school hallways were transformed into the parade route of Central Park West, 7th Avenue and Macy’s Herald Square. The students decorated balloons with iconic characters including Minnie Mouse, Spider-Man, and more.

The students learned to control and move each balloon via a motorized ball that was placed underneath a cup with the balloon attached to it. The balls, called Spheros, were controlled by laptops using coding that the students learned. They were able to change the color, speed, lighting and direction of the balloons.

Read full story in the Baldwin Herald >>

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