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March 17, 2014

Education College Student Group Hosts STEM Day for Elementary Schoolchildren

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The Old Dominion University chapter of the Student Virginia Education Association partnered with the Darden College of Education, the ODU Peninsula Higher Education Center and MonarchTeach to host 125 Hampton Roads fourth- and fifth-grade students Saturday, March 1, at the organization's annual STEM Day event (see photos below).

More than 45 volunteers, including students and professors, were on hand to engage students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and art-related activities at the Education Building. In sessions taught by faculty members, students participated in activities to engineer and re-engineer frogs to jump farther, examine the power of ratios in football and investigate DNA strands to combine their very own "power animal."

This mind-stimulating project was largely funded by the CLASS (Community Learning through America's Schools) Grant from the National Education Association's Student Program. Since 1989, college students on more than 200 campuses across the country have become involved, giving thousands of children hope and the promise of a better tomorrow. The event also provides opportunities for future teachers from all over the country to work together with others in their surrounding communities to meet area needs and wishes.

The visiting youngsters also watched a personalized video message from Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who urged them to continue to "ask questions and stay curious about the world around them."

"The students participated in hands-on integrated science, technology, engineering, math and art activities. They were engaged and motivated to learn about the DNA of fruit, how to re-engineer a design for greater movement, how to combine different types of matter and get a chemical reaction to create art, and so much more," said Jody Sommerfeldt, senior lecturer of teaching and learning and adviser to the ODU Student Virginia Education Association chapter. "ODU's professors and several student teachers created lessons that will have a lasting impact on students' lives."

Volunteers facilitating the groups of students during ODU's STEM Day were future teachers who gained practical experience. The program aims to inspire young students to become interested in STEM subjects, STEM careers and attending college.

Sabrina Hayes, ODU SVEA president, noted, "We received so much positive feedback from students and from parents saying that their child was still excited days after, and that they were looking forward to attending next year."