by Lisa Tome
"I'm here to see if one of these kids turns into an engineer or scientist."
Those were the words of W.L. Gore staffer Tony Fareno when he turned out for the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Celebration held at Kenmore Elementary School recently
"This is a first ever event. W.L. Gore is our business partner and they are so involved with us. We have a fantastic connection with them. Today we are connecting in an academic sense," said Kenmore principal Joshua Mangold.
About 40 Gore staff, from the neighboring Cherry Hill site, turned out to help guide the morning of STEM activities.
Pre-K through second graders participated in marshmallow geometry, ghost, squishy circuits, and colors experiments. Second graders also got to study clean hands and just a minute. The squishy circuit lesson had students comparing play with store bought Play-Doh versus homemade dough.
Students in grades three through five were assigned the egg drop, straw bridge, and catapult lessons. The egg drop had students building a cushion for eggs. If the eggs survived the indoor one meter, two meter, and three meter drops, they got to drop the eggs from the building's roof. Gore employee Gary Cebula was working at the egg drop. "This lets us give back to the community," said Cebula.
Straw bridge had students constructing to see how much weight a small bridge could endure.
"We want them to focus on designing, having fun, and getting them engaged," said Mangold. "I told the Gore employees to feel free to nerd it up."
Board of Education president Dawn Branch attended the event. "It's so exciting for the kids. They are learning and they don't even know they are learning," said Branch. "The kids are happy, excited, and engaged."
Mangold also said he hopes the STEM Celebration will be an annual event. "If one kid thinks this is cool, that's what we're hoping for," he said.
Kenmore students already have an ongoing relationship with the Gore employees. Nearly two dozen volunteer at the school regularly and serve as mentors to students.