“We always say that Paramount is family,” Dean of Upper Elementary and event organizer Alanna McCreary said. “We really like to get to know our parents and our scholars in different environments outside of the classroom. We wanted to create that element of fun where kids could come to an event where they can just learn and be hands on. It was a chance to be exposed to new things that they may not have experienced before.”
These three Western Michigan University Chemistry Club students did a few experiments for the scholars while they explained what was happening.
There were several organizations who hosted tables where scholars could do different activities and experiments. Organizations such as Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum, Bricks and Minifigs Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Area Mathematics & Science Center, Michigan Department of Transportation, Western Michigan University’s Chemistry Club, Western Michigan University College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Stryker attended.
Kalamazoo Astronomical Society members brought this telescope and some other items for scholars to check out.
McCreary also had some teachers who hosted STEM-specific activities. One activity was called Snack and Science; using Oreo cookies, scholars used a plastic knife to carve into the Oreo crème the phases of the moon going from full to crescent. McCreary said that was a popular one.
Bricks & Minifigs Kalamazoo is a local store where people can buy, sell and trade gently used Legos. The representatives brought a big tub of Legos so that students could build cool things.
Another activity room had scholars and family members playing I Declare War math-style card game. It’s like the card game War, but with different variations. Sometimes the scholars had to add the two cards or subtract and whoever got the correct answer fastest won the round. Another variation is to multiply or divide the two cards and the quickest to answer correctly won the round.
Western Michigan University College of Engineering and Applied Sciences had two tables. At this one, scholars could race cars around this racetrack.
Students could also participate in The Tower of Random Things. Using things like straws, rubber bands, cups, tape, and index cards, scholars tried to build the highest tower. Also, a staff person’s friend, Sanjeev Dasari, who is an artificial intelligence engineer, showed how the work he does doing programming and coding translates into real world work projects.
To encourage scholars to visit all the information booths, they received a raffle ticket at each booth. They could then put their tickets in buckets in front of the STEM raffle prize they wanted to win. Several of the booths had give-away items like activity booklets that they could take home and continue to learn.
This Michigan Department of Transportation staff person talked about traffic safety and the engineering work that goes into timing traffic lights.
“I think it opened our students’ eyes to more STEM activities and to a world of endless possibilities within science, engineering, technology and mathematics,” McCreary said. “Events like this create that natural love they have for wanting to learn and have hands-on experiences that they may not normally have inside the classroom.”
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Paramount Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes 99 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.
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