Alcoa Intermediate students held their own version of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Tuesday inside the school gym.

When Alcoa City Schools held a homecoming parade this year as part of the city’s centennial celebration, administrators realized many students had no parade experience, fourth grade teacher Leanne Overton explained.

So for this year’s STEM Day, the students’ challenge was to create balloon characters or animals like those that appear in the annual parade broadcast from New York City.

“We always love giving our students real-life problem-solving situations,” Overton said.

Previous science, technology, engineering and math challenges have had winter and Olympics themes.

To prepare this year, students read “Balloons Over Broadway,” an award-winning book that tells the story of how the giant balloon puppets came to be an American tradition.

The students watched videos and conducted research to prepare to make their own balloon creations Tuesday, Overton said. “The goal is to have them as realistic as possible.”

They were to ask, imagine, plan, create and improve, she said, using supplies that included balloons, dowels, straws, crepe paper, construction paper and markers.

Each team of three or four students was to make a character or animal that would have a positive influence on children watching a parade.

Then they held a parade in the gym at the end of the day before Thanksgiving break.

Amy Beth earned her degree from West Virginia. She joined The Daily Times in 2016 on the education beat covering Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County school systems.

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