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High schoolers create take-home STEM activity bags for 3,600 elementary students
North Forsyth STEM Night
Every student from Coal Mountain, Chattahoochee, Chestatee and Silver City Elementary Schools were able to take home a bag, color-coded for each grade level, containing 4-5 activities relating to STEM, a directions sheet on how to do each activity and a QR code leading to a high schooler explaining the STEM concept. Photo courtesy of Denise Webb.

The North Forsyth High School Science Ambassador Club hosts a family STEM night each year for area elementary students, but under COVID-19 guidelines, they had to come up with a creative solution to continue with the popular event this year.

Denise Webb and Charlotte Stevens, the program directors and teachers at Coal Mountain Elementary and North Forsyth High, respectively, usually help to plan and fundraise for the annual event, allowing for students of each elementary school in north Forsyth to come out, learn and have fun with STEM activities.

They would travel to 18-20 different booths throughout the room where they participated in hands-on activities where North Forsyth high school students taught a science or engineering concept. Then, the students were able to take whatever item they made at the booth home with them with instructions on how to use it again. Participating elementary schools include Coal Mountain, Chattahoochee, Chestatee and Silver City.

“We’ve been doing that for about eight years, and every year, it’s grown bigger and bigger,” Webb said. “The community loves it.”

While they were unable to hold the event this year due to COVID-19, Webb said they wanted to ensure families, whether they were attending school virtually or in-person, would still be able to participate.

The team came up with a creative solution, and in the weeks leading up to spring break, North Forsyth’s students worked hard to create 3,600 Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math bags for the kids at each of the four elementary schools to take home with them.

Each bag included four to five activities for students to complete, meaning the high schoolers packed more than 17,000 activities in total. Along with their take-home bags, they received directions on how to complete each activity along with a QR code that they could scan on their devices. The code took them to a video of one of the North Forsyth students explaining the STEAM concept.

Webb said one of the highlights for the kids during science nights has always been getting out and seeing the older students. Not only does it get them excited about science, but it also gives them a chance to see a diverse group of older kids — football players, cheerleaders, chorus members, theater students — who are interested in STEM subjects.

“They get to see all kinds of people doing science, which I think is great,” Webb said. “They don’t have this stereotype of what you have to look like to be a scientist.”

Each of the STEAM bags were finished and handed out to students just in time for spring break, giving them the opportunity to take their time and do the activities with their families during their week off.

“What was so nice about this, too, is a lot of the parents who have never made a science night, it gave them the opportunity to see some of the activities we do during [those] nights,” Webb said.

Stevens and Webb held fundraisers to help fund the program this year, raising enough for the kits and bags color-coded for each grade level. They wanted to thank their largest donor, the North Forsyth 400 Rotary Club, for their contributions which allowed them to purchase the bags for the kids.

Overall, Webb said the event was a great success, and she’s excited to continue with the STEM night for years to come.

“It ended up working out great,” Webb said. “The kids were so excited to get those bags.”