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John B. Cary Elementary Hosts First Annual Innovation Day

RPS students building structures In collaboration with VCU’s School of Engineering, John B. Cary Elementary School hosted their first annual Innovation Day. Students throughout the building engaged in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities geared to promoting collaboration, creativity and ingenuity.

Students playing gym activities “Innovation Day was an amazing experience for our students,” said Michael Powell, Principal of John B. Cary Elementary School. “Students were thinking like scientists – they were creating, making, breaking and re-making. They were asking and answering their own questions, coming up with hypotheses and solving problems on their own.”

Students from every grade level were engrossed in STEM activities that were developed for their age level and led by volunteers from VCU’s School of Engineering. Kindergartners constructed towers of spaghetti and marshmallows, challenging each other to build the tallest freestanding structure using only those materials. Second graders let out shrieks of excitement as they flew hoop gliders they created through hula hoops, competing to see whose glider could fly the furthest. And fifth graders were busy building flood barriers, testing to see what materials and designs protected their structures from water.

“Innovation Day is a chance for students and staff from the VCU College of Engineering to show children how creative and fun engineering can be,” said Jenilee Shanks, Director of Government and Community Outreach at VCU’s College of Engineering. We have been truly inspired by the visionary leadership, dedicated teachers, and wonderful students at John B. Cary Elementary School.”

RPS students in a classroom In addition to Innovation Day, John B. Cary Elementary School and VCU’s School of Engineering have forged a long-term partnership that will help propel Cary’s STEM initiatives forward.

“Our partnership with VCU's College of Engineering means that we are creating a pipeline of students who will be college and career ready,” said Principal Powell. “All of our students will be able to envision their journey and start taking the steps to build the life they want to live. They’ll begin to see themselves as college students, as they work with VCU students. They’ll see themselves as problem solvers and as leaders in all STEM subjects.”