Best in class: STEM camp used hands-on activities

Georgia Power sponsored a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) summer camp at Inman Elementary for rising third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students. Science teachers recommended students for the camp who had shown high interest or academic ability in science or math. Interest was so high that the number of participants was narrowed to 30 by a lottery. The participants were: Morgan Colelough, Jad Bennani-Karim, Skye Crawford, Jack Higginbotham, Brea Langston, Kate Malthaner, Piper Scotch, Jessica Starkey, Carpenter Ray, Beth Bishop, Arwen Caballero, Jaxson Clemons, Mackenzie Guillou, Kylee Gutierrez, John Carter Keller, Kaylee Kent, Chiamaka Okoro, Sophia Peterson, Isaiah Reynolds, Ethan Riesberg, Kayleigh Shaw, Emma Anderson, Olivia Ray, Athena Salcedo, Aisha Siddiqi, Andrew Starkey, Wyatt Thomas, Sabrina Tingle, Samantha Tingle, and Tilman Waldorf. They learned about energy efficiency, electricity, generation, and force and motion through a variety of hands-on activities from baking s’mores and nachos in homemade solar ovens to creating balloon-powered rockets. They also saw demonstrations including Georgia Power’s PowerTown, which teaches students how to be safe around electricity. The weeklong camp ended with a field trip to Plant Scherer, a coal-fired power plant.

• Students in a Dunwoody group called Aspiration Creation were among students worldwide who got to participate in a projects with the European Space Agency to take live images of Mars. Their project was one of 25 the ESA accepted, among proposals from Europe, the United States, Argentina, and Australia. The Dunwoody students learned simulation software and image processing to render images of the Martian South Pole, then compare it with Earth’s South Pole. The presentation they created can be viewed on the ESA website at under the subheading “Aspiration Creation.”

• The University of North Georgia officially opened its new campus in Blue Ridge on Aug. 13. Establishing the Blue Ridge Campus came in response to a need for access to higher education that was identified through UNG’s Regional Education and Economic Development Task Force, a group of more than 100 business, education, government and community leaders from northeast Georgia. This spring, the state Legislature and the University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved $943,000 in the fiscal 2016 operating budget to establish UNG’s Blue Ridge campus.

• The Fayette County Sheriff’s Department dropped off 50 backpacks stocked with school supplies, and boxes of tissues for the teachers, at Spring Hill Elementary School the day before the start of school. The sheriff’s department also donated funds to help the school purchase items for students who need them.

Four Gwinnett schools have been named finalists for a 2015 Georgia STEM Education Award from the Technology Association of Georgia. The finalists from Gwinnett and the category in which they are recognized are: Peachtree Ridge High School, high school; Jackson Elementary School, STEM Day Activity; Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology, STEM-certified school outreach; and Lanier High School, STEM-certified school outreach. The Georgia STEM Education Awards recognizes schools, programs, and companies for outstanding efforts and achievements in supporting and promoting science, technology, engineering and math education. Winners will be announced during a half-day event Aug. 28 at the Carlos Community Center in Atlanta.

Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Joseph Barrow has been chosen to serve on the inaugural Superintendents’ Advisory Council created by Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods. Barrow is one of 19 superintendents from throughout the state chosen for the council, which Woods established as a central way to gather feedback from superintendents on the local impact of state-level decisions. The group had its first meeting in July, and will continue to meet regularly to discuss issues at the local level.

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