Students at W.L. Swain Elementary School have been practicing their STEAM skills and they recently created projects based on the book “Balloons Over Boadway” by Melissa Sweet, which tells the true story of Tony Sarg, a puppeteer who originally created the giant helium balloons of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

As a child, Sarg loved puppetry and making objects move. When he grew up, he became famous for his marionettes. Macy’s Department Store asked him to create a puppet parade display for the department store’s holiday window display. This was a huge success and led to the idea of a parade in the streets of New York City on Thanksgiving Day with Sarg’s large balloon puppets.

Students at Swain were asked to work through design steps (ask, imagine, plan, create, improve) to design their own balloon for the first annual W.L. Swain Thanksgiving Day Parade.

“It was a challenge to bring 2D characters to life on a 3D balloon. Many students had to revisit their plans to improve them once they started to work. Students also learned about Helium and participated in a science experiment to create a gas to inflate a balloon with carbon dioxide and used technology to explore parade history and the science of ballooning,” explained Amy Parker, director of communications and community engagement for the school system.

The W. L. Swain Thanksgiving Day Parade was held Friday as students prepared for the Thanksgiving break. The parade came complete with its own grand marshal — Cody West — as students walked the halls by homeroom classes viewing each of the hand-crafted balloons.

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