The study of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) has become as important as ever in today's society.
That's the reason STEM education has become so valuable; to create critical thinkers, increase literacy in the sciences and to help the next generation of scientists to become innovators.
Gulf Elementary School, at 3400 S.W. 17th Place in Cape Coral, will host a STEM program Thursday, from 6:15 to 8 p.m. School staff, along with students from Ida Baker and Mariner high schools will explain the science behind the myriad of activities and students will participate in.
Gulf Elementary principal Kimberly Verblaauw said the school has created two STEM labs at the school "to get kids and their families excited about science."
"We also want to engage our community because we have community people participating as well," Verblaauw said.
The theme for the first STEM night will be "The Amazing Race." Families will receive a map upon arrival, with more than 20 hands-on activities that support STEM learning.
"We wanted to create something where the kids follow the clues and use critical thinking to get to their next station," Verblaauw said. "They'll do the activity, get their clue and go on to the next activity."
Among the activities are the planting of sunflower seeds, matching bugs, building a gumdrop bridge and weighing pennies, a circuit lab where they have to switch the battery, kitchen chemistry, and more.
"They're fun activities, and their quick, and it engages our kids," Verblaauw said. "If we don't get to them now, they'll get to high school and not know what engineering is."
The staff and special guests will be helped out by National Honor Society and robotics students from Mariner, who will bring in their robots and have them join in the activities, and education students from Ida Baker, who are volunteering at the school during the day.
Local companies such as the Edison Ford winter estates, Kona Ice and Dolphin Boatlifts will showcase some of the latest technology being used in our community.
Verblaauw said she expects up to 300 students and their families. Gulf Elementary is the largest elementary school in Lee County with about 1,100 students. She said the more the merrier.
"It engages them better than regular text books. The hands-on part of science is what they love to do," Verblaauw said. Any time you make something into a game, it's fun,"
Food will be available for purchase.