Walking down the hallway after school at Woodgate Intermediate School this past school year, staff members could hear lively conversation and laughter coming from the 5th grade science classrooms. Thanks to a generous grant from the Howmet Aerospace Foundation in conjunction with support from the Midway ISD Education Foundation, fifth grade girls at Woodgate were given the opportunity to participate in the new Girls STEM Club to explore such interesting topics as space exploration, water conservation and filtration, and the effects of household chemicals on the environment.
Fifth grade science instructors Morgan Castillo, Lora Tepe, Amanda Endsley, Keron Thomas and Katy McConal received a $20,000 grant last summer to establish a girl’s STEM Club and coordinate a district-wide Science STEM night, using materials from the STEMranger Food & Water kits and lessons from Phillippe Cousteau, grandson of Jacque Cousteau. At each meeting, the girls worked through the lessons using materials provided by the grant program. While COVID kept the students from taking planned trips to the Waco Wetlands and the Challenger Learning Center, Google Meet provided the club with opportunities to virtually meet with Baylor professors, NASA officials, and other renowned scientists to learn more about STEM fields and areas of interest.
While the planned district-wide, hands-on STEM night “in person” event at the campus was not possible due to COVID restrictions in place this past school year, the girls and staff revised their plan and carried out a “STEMtacular” virtual evening event for Woodgate students and their families. The purpose of this event was to demonstrate the affects of different household cleaners on our world and our health. In preparing for this event, they forged a relationship with the AP Chemistry class at Midway High School to explore environmentally safe household cleansers and bath products via virtual meetings. A discussion about the impact of household cleaners, a hands-on activity to show water filtration works using items from kits provided for the students to take home, and a presentation about steps that families and households could take to contribute to a healthier environment were highlights of the evening’s virtual program.
One of the girls responded in the survey taken afterward said, “I would love to come to more STEM Nights in the future and this was awesome!” Fortunately, it is quite likely that we will be able to host more STEM activities through the Girls STEM club in the coming year. There are remaining materials that can be used to continue the program for this same group of girls as sixth graders at Woodgate Intermediate School next year. We are grateful to Howmet Aerospace Foundation and the Midway ISD Education Foundation for providing the funds needed to carry out this memorable program.