Kristen Tufo, science teacher at St. Thomas More School in Southwest Portland, enjoys being creative in the lab. Her latest STEAM challenge, “The Pringle Thingle,” proves it. She asked the students to design a package to safely ship a Pringle chip through the U.S. mail to the school without damage to the chip.

“It was a great time to do this particular challenge,” said Tufo. “The kids were home while the holiday packages were being delivered. And there was so much talk on the news about packages this year. We thought we should let them try and understand what kind of planning and engineering it takes to get an item through the mail safely.”

The challenge: Students could only send one chip and could not use the original Pringle container.

“It is always great to see the creativity of our faculty and students,” said Katy Smith, principal of St. Thomas More. “This one was particularly fun; who doesn’t love a Pringle?”

Bubble wrap, paper towels, Ziploc bags and tissue paper were just a few of the materials of choice. Two Pringles did arrive unscathed.

“The word ‘engineer’ can mean so many different things,” said Tufo. “We always hope our schoolwide STEAM challenges help students see that. It is in that moment of discovery that they might start seeing themselves as an engineer or someone who will choose science as a career.”

Not surprisingly for an experienced teacher like Tufo, the project runs deeper than science class alone.

“We love to introduce a new concept to our students and possibly help them discover a passion,” she said. “Then part of our mission of making learning a life-long endeavor is accomplished.”


St. Thomas More School

3525 SW Patton Rd.

Portland 97221


Grades: K-eight

Enrollment: 220 students

Tuition: $7,445 for parishioners, $8,545 for others

Financial aid available

Community of faith with dedicated teachers, rigorous curriculum, supportive community. Weekly Mass, STM Learning Resource Program, Project HOPE service opportunities. Hot lunch, after-school care, extracurricular programming.

See school website for open house details and application information.