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On Saturday March 12, TrueNorth held their third annual Spring S.T.E.A.M. Challenge.  The challenge is part of their Project FOCUS Afterschool program. A total of six schools took part in the event, made up of separate but connected elements focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. Participating schools included; Baldwin, Hart, Hesperia, Muskegon Heights, Walkerville, and White Cloud. In Baldwin, Hesperia and White Cloud, Project FOCUS is funded through a grant from the Fremont Area Community Foundation, and in Hart, Walkerville, and Muskegon Heights, through a 21stCentury Community Learning Centers grant. There were approximately 175 students from the 3rd through 12th grades.  Several parents came along to support their children and their schools as well.

Mailing Chip Challenge - Several weeks prior to the event, students had to design safe packaging to hold a potato chip that would be mailed through the post office, from their respective schools to the TrueNorth Service Center in Fremont. The idea was for them to come up with a design weighing 200 grams or less, that could withstand the trip and protect its fragile contents. On Saturday, all the envelopes were opened to see how intact the chips were. Entries were then rated on the integrity of the chip and the total weight of the package, before winners were selected. For the Sailboat Challenge, students designed boats out of balsa wood blocks (middle & high school) and foam board (elementary school) at each school, and brought their boats to the event. “Wind”, via electric fans, was then applied to race the boats in two channels, with the fastest boats winning.


They also had an Art Contest, with some very intricate and interesting entries. In an amazing display of ingenuity, a group of students carved two sets of letters out of Styrofoam board to spell the word STEAM, and connected them with plastic cups. A Tower Building Contest concluded the competition portion of the event. Teams were made up of 5 -6 members and had only 20 minutes to build a structure with “Lego” blocks (for the younger students) or “K’Nex” (for the older age group). Their towers were judged on height, durability, teamwork, communication, and participation during the build.


The Ann Arbor Museum of Science also took part in the event. They offered activities ranging from 3D printing to teambuilding. Additional activities offered included - paper airplane design, building and racing; “Little Bits” free play; “Lego” robotics; and other arts activities. After lunch, while the judges were tallying the results, a group of students started an impromptu line-dance that quickly grew to include parents and staff... and just like that, another fun event was born.


Special thanks to everyone who participated and to all the volunteers who helped make this event so amazing!


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