Gardner Hosts First Annual STEM Day

Gardner Hosts First Annual STEM Day
Posted on 12/07/2018
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In our first ever STEM (Science, Technology, Engineer, and Math) Day, Gardner STEM Magnet School dedicated an entire Friday to STEM-related activities and projects for kindergarten-5th grade students. The idea behind this effort was to create fun, diverse opportunities for students to explore STEM topics to hopefully inspire involvement in STEM-related efforts throughout their educational experience and beyond. Partners from other schools within the HSSD and the community - including the Gardner PTO, HSWCHS EAST students, Henderson State University STEM Center, and Dawson Cooperative - were instrumental in creating a successful day of  memorable activities and collaboration.

The event was organized by a Gardner teacher committee, led by Mrs. Saracini and Mrs. Burden. Fifteen unique stations for kindergarten-1st grade and 19 unique stations for 2nd-5th grade students were designed by the committee. Stations each required curriculum, tools and resources, and instructors. The undertaking also required help from parent volunteers, as students were rotating in and out of classrooms, the library and cafeteria, computer labs, and other locations throughout the school, and needed hands-on assistance to navigate the new routine. Students were in charge of which stations they rotated through. Gardner teachers presented options to students in an online survey, and required them to choose four activities. Their individual station rotations were then printed on cards that students wore around their necks throughout the day. Kindergarten - 1st grade students completed sessions from 8:30-10:30 a.m., and 2nd-5th grade students completed sessions from 12:00-2:00 p.m.

What did STEM stations look like? In a Code-a-pillars Station, Mrs. Moody and Mrs. Turner taught students how to translate basic commands like “go left” or “go straight” into computer codes that told caterpillar robots how to travel between two locations. Mrs. Bettis and Mrs. Carpenter worked with students in the Magnet Cars Station to build small cars and then navigate the toys using magnets placed on the cars and sticks. Students learned how to navigate the cars by manipulating the magnets, and never actually touched them. Mrs. Burden worked with students in the Robot Mice Station to teach students how to code mice robots to move through narrow passages in a puzzle. Students built stomp rockets with Mr. Buth and Mrs. Milroy. They created homemade playdough with Mrs. Ross, Mrs. Nobles, and Mrs. Doris Smith. Slime, a Dash-and-Dot activity, Lego Building, and more were also among station options.

For 2nd-5th grade students, Hot Springs World Class High School (HSWCHS) EAST students hosted a Makey-Makey station. Makey Makey is an electronic invention kit that allows students to take everyday objects and connect them to computer programs. Using alligator clips attached to any conductive material via USB cable, the creator can control the keyboard of a computer. In addition to the same offerings for younger students, older students also enjoyed stations where they built entire robots, explored Snap Circuits and Illuminating circuits, and explored greater depth into computer coding.

“Mrs. Saracini and Mrs. Burden were the masterminds behind this undertaking/Gardner staff could see quickly that the idea could be a great fit for our students and fun way to add to our offerings” says Gardner STEM Principal Mrs. Newborn. “ Our students truly enjoyed the day. Each station was carefully planned to challenge them with new content and in most cases - materials and resources that they had not used before. Thank you to all of our Gardner staff for working together to pull off such an ‘outside-the-box’ event for our kids. Thank you to our other elementary schools, student groups, and community partners who contributed materials and bots or instructors and volunteers. This was a village effort, and we were so well taken care of by our Hot Springs School district community and partners.”

Gardner staff plans to host another STEM Day event during the second semester in late spring. Learn more about our #HSSD Gardner STEM Magnet School, here.

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