Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Student refuses to miss her MLGW STEM Learning Academy drive-thru event

Student refuses to miss her MLGW STEM Learning Academy drive-thru event

Ten-year-old Emma Bufford couldn't wait to see her teachers from her Saturday school at MLGW STEM Learning Academy. 

STEM volunteer Kenneth Harper, waved at Emma's mom, Antoinette Jones, as soon as she pulled into the parking lot. "Where's baby girl?" he asked. "In the backseat?"

"No," Jones replied. "She's right here," as she held up her iPad. Wearing her star-powered print shirt, Emma - via FaceTime - waved and grinned at Harper and others from her dad's home in Atlanta. 

Drive-thru graduation

Emma was among 14 parents and students in grades 3 - 5 from Cummings Elementary and John P. Freeman Optional School who attended the drive-by event June 5. In all, 32 students attended the academy virtually on alternating Saturdays from February until June. 

That dedication and determination from Emma and the other students surprised MLGW STEM coordinators Candice Lucas and Angel Harper. 

"Given everything we've been through with the pandemic, it said to me, we did something right," Lucas said. 

Mrs. Harper agreed: "The value of this program and the students showing up speaks volumes." 

Much of the learning included hands-on engineering kits for building a miniature bridge, a lunar explorer or a catapult. Other lessons focused on learning how to budget. 

"Pandemic proof"

Some parents are already asking organizers to save spots so that their children can attend when MLGW STEM Academy returns this fall. No matter what happens, Mrs. Harper said, "We want to come up with a curriculum that is pandemic-proof." 

As a rising 5th grader, Emma will have one more year to be a part of the MLGW STEM Academy. "She loved the challenge of thinking outside the box," Jones said. "For me, I love how it's exposing her to careers that are within reach. Right now, she wants to be everything. A neurologist. A chef. An engineer." 

Jones knows MLGW is doing it right by her daughter's standards: "If it's time to go to the STEM Learning Academy on a Saturday, she's up. That's what she loves. She's all about STEM." 

Click here to see more photos of the event posted on Flickr.com. 

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