Laura as Elmer the Patchwork Elephant

Laura as Elmer the Patchwork Elephant for her school's STEAM Night.

Laura dressed as Elmer the Patchwork Elephant for her school’s STEAM Night.

We used to call it Open House back in the day, but that just won’t do in these modern days of higher sensibilities, so they have given it a new name. Or actually more than one new name, because it keeps changing. Last year it was STEM, and this year it is STEAM. I keep hoping that next year’s added letter will make it STEAMY, but that probably won’t happen.

If you are wondering, STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. The goal for STEAM night is to have projects that show different aspects of all of those areas, and usually those projects are linked to a specific theme. This year’s theme was STEAM Storybook nights, and each class chose a different book as the focus of their projects. For example, one class was Jack and the Beanstalk, one class was Little Red Riding Hood, and so on. As part of the fun, the teachers each dressed as some character from the book that their class had chosen.

As a specialty teacher, Laura worked with all of the classes on different projects, so she did not have a book of her own. Instead, she chose a colorful character from one of her favorite books, Elmer the Patchwork Elephant. In the story, Elmer is a bit different from the other elephants, but instead of trying to blend in he realizes he is happier just being his own person. Or elephant. Sounds a lot like how us Burnses operate sometimes.

To make the costume, Laura worked hard cutting the squares of material and sewing them into a patchwork costume. It involved a little trial and error, but it turned out really well, especially considering that she didn’t have a pattern to go by. She did find a pre-made Elmer mask online that she was able to print out and use, but the rest of the costume was all her own creation.

In thinking about it, she used all of the STEAM attributes as she made her costume, too:

  • Science – Because science is everywhere (my first entry was that she blinded me with science, but who remembers the 1980s, anyway?)
  • Technology – I never have figured out just how that sewing machine is able to do what it does, and so quickly, too. It is a technological marvel!
  • Engineering – It takes a rather grand amount of engineering to figure out how to make a costume without a pattern. Different from the electrical engineering that I do at work every day, but still engineering nonetheless.
  • Arts – I think the art part is rather evident, as the whole thing is artistic, and not the sort of thing that my more scientific mind would have come up with.
  • Mathematics – She did a lot of figuring on how many squares it would take, and how long it should be, and how wide it should be. But I don’t think she ever counted just how many squares made up the costume. It was a lot, as you can see!

Just in case anyone didn’t know who she was supposed to be, she even made a nametag for her costume:

Laura's Elmer the Patchwork Elephant Nametag

But perhaps she should have had a nametag that told who she really was. It was funny seeing people trying to figure out who it was behind the mask, particularly the students.

If you are wondering, the rest of the STEAM Night seemed to be just as much of a success as Laura’s costume was. Jaylin and I enjoyed seeing everything that the different classes had done as we were waiting for the end to come so that we could go eat and go home. It was all really cool, and much different from what we did back in the dark ages when I was in school.

Of course, I was most proud of a certain patchwork elephant. That was the best.

A house and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a sensible wife is from the Lord. – Proverbs 19:14


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