Harlan elementary hosts ‘Family STEM Night’

Harlan Elementary School recently hosted its first Math and Science Family STEM night. STEM education is a new and innovative approach to teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Focusing on the impact of these disciplines, STEM prepares students for the global workforce.

Bringing STEM education to Harlan elementary is an excellent fit according to Principal Vickie Anderson, “Our goal at Harlan Elementary School is to prepare students to go out into the real world and be successful. STEM education is an avenue to help us accomplish this goal.”

STEM is just one more program that has been implemented during Anderson’s tenure as principal to provide the best possible educational experience for Harlan Elementary students. Sierra Crow, Harlan elementary teacher, organized the evening’s activities. Crow stated, “Family Math and Science STEM Night was designed to give students an opportunity to experience math and science in real world situations. Students were challenged to apply the skills from the classroom to engineer, solve and explore. Overall, the response was great. Students and their families really seemed to enjoy the night.”

HES faculty prepared a variety of activities based on STEM principles for their school families to participate in. Tiffany Cooper, a Harlan elementary parent called the evening, “A fun learning experience.” Activities included engineering a plumbing system for water movement with professional engineer Jerry Cooper, engineering structures with Legos with Rich Haynes from the Harlan Public Library, and designing and constructing a catapult. Also, students and parents worked with electricity and circuit snaps with 4-H, built the tallest tower using cups and playing cards, designed a pattern and created a piece of jewelry, and drew a quilt piece using tangrams.

Several other activities were included in the evening to be sure that every family involved had an amazing experience. There was a math/science scavenger hunt, a cupcake walk with grade level math and science questions, two different bingo games and a slime making station. Parent Jonathan Gwinn called the evening, “A very fun experience. It was nice to see all the students engage in the activities provided.”

Families are a vital part of student success and Harlan Elementary School faculty and staff were excited that Family STEM Night provided parents an opportunity to take part in this groundbreaking educational experience.

Principal Anderson said, “Research shows that parent involvement can impact student academic success. This is why it was so wonderful to see so many of our families come out and be engaged in their child’s learning. It truly was a “family affair.”

The evening’s grand finale proved to be entertaining as well as educational. Fourth grade teachers and Anderson competed against four peer-voted fourth grade students to prove they were, in fact, “Smarter than Fourth Graders.”

The Family STEM Night was designed to encourage students to take an interest in these disciplines at an early age. Second-grader Shaelyn Brackett said, “My favorite part was the scavenger hunt and the cake walk because I got to answer math and science questions. Mrs. Billie asked me third grade questions and I knew them also!” Shaelyn’s mother, Samantha Brackett, made a request for a repeat of the event. “I hope this becomes a yearly thing because I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her my daughter this excited about math!”