Bring together more than 700 Fritz Elementary School students.
Add 52 teenagers from Conestoga Valley High School.
Provide hands-on experiences in crime scene investigations, robots and chemical reactions.
What is the result? A schoolwide laboratory churning with studies in science, technology, engineering and math.
Fritz students spent May 17 learning about the STEM factors behind bridges and buildings, airplanes and drones, germs and static electricity. With guidance from high school students in the Science National Honor Society and Technology Student Association, they explored levers, gears, balloon cars and stream critters — even making ice cream.
“The goal was to give our elementary students a meaningful and unique day full of all things STEM, and the resulting collaboration with our high school students was a perfect fit for that vision,” second grade teacher Suzanne Reed said in a news release.
“It was evident in the student smiles, dialogue and engagement that could be seen and heard all day long. It was truly amazing!”
A few hundred hours of planning were required to bring the inaugural STEM day to reality. Seven stations were led by high school students who created unique experiences for Fritz students, each of whom rotated to five of the seven stops. Fritz teachers hosted and advised the high schoolers.
The event was planned by Reed and a teacher team from Fritz; James Hovan, a high school science teacher and adviser to science honor society; and Matthew Maisano and Thomas Thomas, high school technology education teachers and Technology Student Association advisers.
“Our (high school) students showed such a high level of enthusiasm that I knew that we needed to find a way to make this work,” Hovan said.
“One of our main missions in (Science National Honor Society) is to promote community programs in science, so this fit our organization perfectly.”
Maisano added, “It was gratifying to watch the high schoolers volunteer their time and skills with learning activities they created from their specific interests. The entire day was an inspirational learning experience for all that were involved.”
The district is eyeing a STEM Day that will rotate to each of its four elementary buildings over a four-year period.