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SPARK adds new project to after-school program

by Mike Eckels | November 20, 2019 at 5:41 a.m.
Westside Eagle Observer/MIKE ECKELS Rachel Gibson (left) helps Abigail Zellars, Kylie Lowery and Emilio Smith-Gomez (foreground) with their closed-circuit project during the SPARK/Amazeum after school program Oct. 31 at Northside Elementary in Decatur.

DECATUR -- Sixth and seventh graders enrolled in the Decatur Northside Elementary SPARK after school program are working with instructors from The Scott Family Amazeum and two co-facilitators, Clara Gomez-Smith and Rachel Gibson from Northside, to combine art with science and technology.

"Even in one hour-long session, you can watch their confidence and self-esteem grow as they are trying new things and making new discoveries," said Andrea VanSandt, Decatur SPARK program coordinator. "We are honored to bring a program of this caliber to our SPARK kids!"

"The Scott Family Amazeum is a hands-on, interactive museum for children and families located in Bentonville. A museum with a foundation in the arts and sciences, the Amazeum encourages creativity, curiosity and community through exhibits, educational collaboration, and programs, workshops and camps. Amazeum experiences include a climbable tree canopy, indoor cave, tinkering hub, nearly one acre of outdoor space, and ever-evolving daily pop-up activities" (www.amazeum.org).

Working with an Amazeum instructor, Gomez-Smith and Gibson helped the students to construct a circuit board and LED lights using a battery, conductive thread, light, copper tape and a piece of cloth. The objective of the project was simple, use the thread to connect the battery to the light.

After watching a short instructional video, the students gathered the materials they needed and set about to build a circuit. For a few of the sixth- and seventh-grade students, the task was fairly simple. Others had to engage their reasoning skills. By the end of the hour-long session, a few students managed to get their LED light to work.

Northside Elementary and Amazeum are part of a nationwide program designed to get students to think science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

"Students in Arkansas are playing a role in the U.S. Department of Education's ongoing effort to solve a national problem -- the critical shortage of students with mastery of science, technology, engineering and math skills.

Through an exciting out-of-school collaboration between the Department and The Institute of Museum and Library Services, local students are participating in the STEM-Rich After School Making Project, where they collaborated with IMLS museum partners and conducted hands-on engineering activities and are learning the relevance of STEM skills to daily life" (Amazeum News Release).

"We hope this is the first of many partnerships with the Amazeum team," said VanSandt. They are a valuable resource as we look for ways to integrate new STEM activities into our SPARK program."

General News on 11/20/2019

Print Headline: SPARK adds new project to after-school program


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