What happens when you mix 64 fourth and fifth grade students, 4 stellar superhero teachers and a series of 4 team building challenges? The first annual Mitchell A. and Victoria K. Smith STEM Saturday at Powhatan School! Thanks to the generosity of past parent Michael Smith, Powhatan hosted 16 student teams representing Virginia Avenue Elementary, John Kerr, Quarles, Frederick Douglass, Daniel Morgan Intermediate, Boyce Elementary, D.G. Cooley Elementary, Hilda J. Barbour Elementary in Warren County and Powhatan on February 3rd.

Students rotated through rooms led by a Superhero Powhatan faculty member and competed in a series of 4 STEM related challenges, each for a period of 30 minutes. Each challenge was designed to encourage collaboration between team members and innovative problem-solving skills. The challenges were varied and all based on a superhero problem:

Laser Maze – each team used a laser and mirrors to direct the beam of light onto a figure who had been frozen by Iceman
Code Breakers – Superman asked students to help restore his powers by decoding a series of secret messages
Civilian Rescue – teams used engineering skills to create catapults that would rescue civilians from a barricaded building
Power Rings – students created rings of power using computers, clay, alligator clips and Makey Makey circuit boards

Upon completion of the challenges, all students returned to the Lindsey Library for reflection on their successes and failures of the day. Two awards were given – Most Innovative Team was awarded to the “Bear Claws” team from Hilda J. Barbour Elementary and Best Collaboration was given to Daniels Morgan’s “Mid-Knights” team. All of the students attending enjoyed the morning and working with their teams to help our Superheroes solve their problems!

This event is a wonderful example of how the intersection of generosity and vision can impact so many students, not only from Powhatan, but from the broader community as well. We can’t wait for next year!