CPN Students and Families Engage in Project-Based Learning with Boeing Engineers

Written by Courtney Lorah

On February 28, 2017

More than 70 students and their family members participated in three consecutive weekly “Family Science Nights” at Mary Ford Elementary School this month. The main goals of Family Science Nights are to 1) spark interest in families to further explore STEM initiatives/career opportunities 2) provide an opportunity for students and their families to problem-solve as a family, and 3) have a great time learning!

Engineers from Boeing South Carolina presented new design challenges each week, and families are provided supplies to design their own creation based on what they learn. For example, during the second night of the series, families learned about the physics involved in helicopter flights, and designed their own helicopters using popsicle sticks, long rubber bands, paperclips, a nose-hook propeller and cardboard. If the model helicopter did not take flight, families assessed the strengths and weaknesses of their original design, and thought creatively about solving the problem.

Family Science Nights offer students transferable skills that will support their academic success and help prepare them for the 21st Century work place. Parents learn new, fun, and resourceful ways to engage as a family unit. The event series was produced by Charleston Promise Neighborhood (CPN), in partnership with Boeing South Carolina and Mary Ford Elementary School, and with the financial support of Mercedes-Benz Vans, LLC, Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q, and Trident United Way.

“It is great to see the children and parents working together,” said La’Dene Conroy, Interim Principal at Mary Ford Elementary. “I am a firm believer in STEM education and how hands-on opportunities like Family Science Nights enhance student learning during the school day.”

“Our aim is to foster a genuine, ongoing sense of community between students and their families, principals, teachers, residents, businesses, nonprofits and other stakeholders who want to see our students succeed in school and life,” said Sherrie Snipes-Williams, CEO of CPN. “Family Science Nights are one important piece of our strategy to engage families and residents in our transformative work year-round.”

The evenings were well attended and a good time was had by all. Many thanks to Mercedes-Benz Vans, Jim N’ Nick’s, and Trident United Way for their financial support, to Boeing, Medical University of South Carolina, and Wells Fargo for their volunteer support, and of course the staff and parent leaders at Mary Ford who worked together to plan the event and ensure its success!