(Media release from Georgia Northwestern Technical College):

More than 150 children turned out for Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s (GNTC) first Kids STEM Festival on Thursday, Oct. 27, at the Gordon County Campus in Calhoun.

The free event was open to everyone. GNTC encouraged students to come with their children to engage in fun learning and STEM activities.

“I am overwhelmed by the community’s support and involvement in this event,” said Daizha Staples, GNTC’s Special Populations coordinator. “I am excited that the community was equally excited about the event. Parents came up to me to thank GNTC for hosting the event.”

GNTC’s Early Childhood Care and Education program instructors and students hosted activities such as making a lava lamp with household items, crafting a tambourine from paper plates and jingle bells, learning how to brush teeth and practicing reading skills. There were also snacks and games, as well as a backpack full of activities given to participants.

The goal behind this event was to provide developmental STEM activities to increase learning in northwest Georgia. Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies, Music and Art activities were explored, Staples said.

“The students get the learning tools to take home with them,” said Jennifer Dixon, assistant dean and instructor of Early Childhood Education at GNTC. She called the learning activities for small children “manipulatives.”

Ben Niles, a 2012 GNTC graduate and member of GNTC’s Alumni Board, said he brought his son, Avery, to the event to learn more about STEM because he likes those subjects at school; meanwhile, Avery said his favorite activities were playing ring toss and cornhole with his father.

Shanna Crocker, a student at GNTC’s Gordon County Campus, said she brought her daughter, Alaina Wheeler, for the Science, Arts and crafts.

“My favorite things were helping out, passing out stickers and getting my lava lamps,” Wheeler said.

The event also inspired educators in grades kindergarten through 12 with fun and innovative ways to include STEM activities in their classrooms, Staples said. All of the preschool and daycare workers in the area were invited.

“The activities and materials for the event were funded through the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning’s (DECAL) Two-Generation Innovation Grant (TGIG) to GNTC,” she said. “The grant is being used to support student parents and to implement in-person events, workshops, campus activities and community partnership outreach opportunities.”

Staples said a second Kids STEM event is planned in the spring at GNTC’s Whitfield Murray Campus in Dalton.

For more information, contact Daizha Staples, GNTC’s Special Populations coordinator, at 706-291-3362 or [email protected].

GNTC student Shanna Crocker (left) makes a tambourine with her daughter, Alaina Wheeler.