News Release, Charles County Public Schools

Families visiting the Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School meal site this summer will be able to feed their minds with STEM challenges aimed at preventing the “summer slide.”

Every other week until Aug. 13, the school, which is collaborating the Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) Title I office, will give out supplies for a Virtual Summer STEM Challenge, an activity that allows children in kindergarten through fifth grade the opportunity to use creativity, critical thinking and engineering skills.

Supplies for the first challenge were given out June 29 and 30 to families visiting the meal site at Mt. Hope. It centers on the Three Little Pigs with families asked to read the story – the traditional tale for younger students, a “fractured” fairy tale for older students – and construct a house out of materials such as marshmallows and wooden skewers that will withstand the big bad wolf’s huffing and puffing. Families can tweet or email a photo or video of the completed project to show off their designs. On Tuesday, families received extra books thanks to Barbershop Books, a nonprofit that works with CCPS to get books in the hands of young students to foster a love of reading.

Upcoming activities at the Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy site include an art project and STEM challenges based around the fairytales Three Billy Goats Gruff, and Jack and the Beanstalk.

Before COVID-19 upended the school year, an afterschool STEM club at Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy gave students an opportunity to hone their critical thinking skills. Staff at Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy brainstormed ideas about keeping students engaged in learning over summer. “Anything that keeps them connected to learning and prevent the summer slide,” Sheryl Morrison, the school’s pupil personnel worker, said.

The challenges can involve the whole family, Betty Clark, Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy’s parent liaison, said. “I definitely don’t want them to fall back,” parent Laura Behm, said, of her children’s skills. “I encourage any opportunity for learning.”

Principal Nancy Seifert is happy students are eager to pick up books and activities over the summer. “It is important to keep our children engaged during the summer to obviously prevent the normal summer slide,” she said. “This year is even more important because we haven’t seen them since mid-March and we want them to retain the skills they learned.  This activity is fun and engaging and they don’t even realize they are using and learning skills in reading, math and science.”