Everitt-hosted STEM Night stimulates child interest

Hardin Valley Elementary School is engaging students and the community with a STEM class, which is new to the school.

As part of the class, HVES STEM teacher Jessica Everitt held a STEM Night, which also included a craft fair, at the school Thursday night, Nov. 29.

As she signed on community partners for the event, she wanted to make sure she engaged her students in those represented science topics leading up to the event so they could engage with the speakers.

“They could actually have those meaningful conversations (with the speakers) and see themselves in those roles,” she said.

As such, Everitt said STEM Night gets students to think about their futures.

The event evolved out of Everitt’s seeing the community’s support for the class. She said the event not only gave the community and students a chance to become engaged, it also involved parents.

The STEM class was made possible when the school had an enrollment that allowed for another classroom position, Everitt said.

“The numbers here at Hardin Valley have increased to the point we were granted by the district another encore (special area class, such as library or technology) position,” she said. “So to accommodate all those students, we had to add another position because we have so many classrooms per grade.”

While principal Sunny Poe had the option of offering another physical education, library or technology class, she and the other administrators instead opted for STEM.

“She saw an opportunity to engage our community,” Everitt said. ”We have a lot of parents who work in Oak Ridge and (other) science fields, so we really bring community in and engage our students

in learning.

“It’s been very well-received,” she added about the class. “We’ve gotten parents’ support, and Harrison Construction Company has reached out to the school.

“It is coming in and supporting our students with people who specialize in different areas in its company and providing financial support for different events and things like that, so we’ve been fortunate to have community support that way, too.”

As far as the students go, “they just get so excited to get to see it and I feel so lucky because I’m the one who gets to be in here with them,” Everitt said.

She said earlier in the school year, her class conducted a light spectrum.

“When a second-grader realizes white light is made up of a rainbow, it’s just a cool thing,” she said. “(The students) just light up and go crazy over it.”

For Everitt, the experience is all fun.

“I get to play with the kids all day,” she said. “I get to be the teacher who engages them in things they are curious about — things we don’t have time in a classroom to engage them on.”

Every day, Everitt teaches every grade level, from kindergarten through fifth grade.“We’re on a nine-day rotation, so I see them once every nine days,” she said.

“I take the science standards, and we go even deeper with them in this room.

“Instead of it being a lecture style, they are learning by doing,” Everitt said.

“They’re creating things with light,” she said. “They’re building things. They are figuring out all those things on their own, so it makes learning more meaningful.

“STEM stands for science, technology, engineering math, but really technology, engineering and math are all branches of science,” Everitt said.

“And when we apply those things, along with math, we come up with engineering standards because engineers are problem solvers that uses science to solve those problems.