It may have been April school vacation, but that didn’t stop a group of students at Meeting Street from staying engaged with learning thanks to United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI), Grantmakers Council of RI (GCRI), and volunteers from BankNewport.
On Friday, April 20, UWRI and GCRI brought their joint “Education Doesn’t Take a Vacation” initiative to Meeting Street, where BankNewport volunteers led students on a variety of S.T.E.M. projects using every day items. The projects were designed to help students develop their problem-solving, teamwork, and creative skills while introducing engineering and science principles.
Among the projects teams of students took on were creating pompom catapults to see which could make the pompoms go the furthest; using toothpicks and gumdrops to create a bridge between two chairs able to support itself and then also support a book; and a challenge called “financial supports,” in which students were tasked with building a tower of straws and clay to support cups full of pennies.
The day’s activities, including the costs of supplies and healthy snacks for students, were generously sponsored by BankNewport, in addition to their volunteer support. As part of its statewide commitment to student learning, the Bank also sponsored and participated in delivering the program to youth at the Newport YMCA in Middletown on April 18.
UWRI and GCRI first launched their co-sponsored April vacation volunteer program in 2016 to help expand educational opportunities for children beyond the walls of the classroom and when school is out of session. The program also provides a chance for youth to learn from and spend time with role models from the community.
This April’s effort at Meeting Street was the first year the program has been brought to the school.