Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)
Vaughan Elementary School recently wrapped up its first fall Saturday STEM program, which ran each week from Oct. 22 through Nov. 17.
The program, for third- through fifth-grade students, came to Vaughan with help from Potomac Valley Church. Volunteers from the local church worked with PWCS teacher Arica Payne to develop lesson plans that suited the needs of the students and the program. Each Saturday, students arrived and enjoyed breakfast before launching into team-building activities and STEM-building projects that highlighted the “word of the week.”
Takia Parker of Potomac Valley Church said, “Each Saturday we had a different word of the week to help students build character. For example, one word was cooperation. The students shared their understanding of what the word meant, we defined the word, and we asked how we can apply the word. Throughout the morning the students were reminded of ways they could work together and were praised for showing great examples of cooperation.”
After each word of the week’s lesson, students formed groups and participated in STEM-building projects based on prompts and supplies given. “We used lessons that were designed to stimulate critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, and creativity in the students. We wanted them to be able to design and construct projects, but also reflect on their successes and failures,” said Payne.
Students were provided with lunch, sponsored by United Healthcare and community service funds from Potomac Valley Church, before heading home each Saturday.
Jacquelyn Scott-Bell, counselor at Vaughan Elementary School, said that the program and volunteers “have been awesome and kept the kids so engated.” This fall’s program was a test run; the school and Potomac Valley Church hope to hold a similar Saturday STEM program in the spring.