Hilltop celebrates STEM week



For the second year, students at Hilltop Elementary School were able to enjoy STEM Week at the school Oct. 29 through Nov. 2. STEM Week, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, was the brainchild of a group of Hilltop parents, which debuted last spring.

“This event is designed to spark curiosity and excitement in science, technology, engineering and math. The students get to explore hands-on activities, think critically and most importantly, have fun,” said Julie Pugh. Pugh, along with Staci Wills and Dianna Prather, chaired the event.

“This program was initiated and designed by parent volunteers with the incredible support of Hilltop teachers and administration. More than 100 parents and family volunteers participated in this event,” Pugh said. „ÄÄ

Each grade had its own designated STEM day with activities which were grade level/age appropriate. Each class had one hour to themselves in the gym to explore each of the activities. Before entering the gym, each class was divided into four groups, with one group starting in science, another in technology, engineering and math, and then rotating through the stations.

Some of the week’s activities included Marshmallow Structures, Hoop Gliders, Solo Cup Towers, Giant Catapult, Oobleck, Magnet Fishing, Mine Craft and how to clean up an oil spill.

“Seventy-five percent of the activities are the same as last year, but as students’ interests changed, we tried to come up with new activities they would enjoy,” Pugh said.

The technology station was the same for each grade level at which students were given the opportunity to use and observe different technology pieces from years ago to the present. Items included a printing press and vintage typewriters and computers.

Grade level teams worked together to create a day of hands-on activities that would encourage students to collaborate and use problem solving skills in meaningful real world applications.

Each grade had their own chairs, including Dianna Prather and Phyllis DeRosa serving as fourth-grade co-chairs; Steph Kelly and Dave Wilkeson serving as third-grade co-chairs; Lisa Farley and Monica Hughes serving as second-grade co-chairs; Coleen Plant and Mary Schwartz serving as first-grade co-chairs and Julie Pugh serving as kindergarten chair.

This year, the committee received material donations from many Hilltop parents, as well as corporate partners such as Zygote Press-Cleveland, Pipers Press, UPS Canfield, DRS, SSK HR Consulting, Salem General Surgery and Hilltrux Tank Lines. The Mahoning County Career and Technical Center provided lanyards for the students to wear on their STEM Day.

“In the future, we hope to continue developing community and local business support to further expand this program,” Pugh said.

When a student was done at a particular station, he or she had the option to visit the look-and-see table before moving onto the next station, which included kaleidoscopes, magnets and magnifying glasses. Students could look at feathers, coins, cotton, carpet fibers, dollar bills and more under the magnifying glasses or a small microscope.

“This week was designed by parents with the support of teachers and administration. We are looking to improve STEM Week each year and will continuously refine everything we do,” Pugh said.

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