On a Saturday in November, 2016, North Chicago Community Partners (NCCP) and Lake Forest Academy (LFA) hosted the sixth annual Fun with STEM and Harvest Hope at A.J. Katzenmaier Academy (AJK). During this fun-filled morning, 44 buddies from LFA and 66 students from AJK paired up, ate a delicious pancake breakfast, prepared by LFA parents, and engaged in hands-on STEM enrichment lessons. Following the morning of learning, AJK students and their families had the opportunity to shop a free grocery store, set-up, run and stocked by LFA and with food purchased through the Northern Illinois Food Bank (NIFB) and donated by the LFA community. In total, 218 individuals, representing 41 families, came to shop the grocery store and enjoyed the opportunity to engage in various health and wellness-related activities.

Highlighted below are a few examples of the fun enjoyed throughout the day.

Our Pulse– Using two of the five senses, sight and sound, students and buddies took a deep-dive into an understanding of the pulse. First, students used stethoscopes to listen to their heartbeat. Then, they placed a mound of playdough with a toothpick on their wrist and watched it rise and fall. Students who attended the afternoon portion of the day had the opportunity to share what they learned with their families at the Heart Rate Station.

Our Lungs- By connecting straws to small bags, student made prototypes of lungs, into which they could blow in and out to mimic the process of breathing. Pinching the straws demonstrated what happens if one does not take care of his or her lungs and reinforced the importance of making healthy choices to keeps all organs functioning properly.

Our Teeth– Using eggs and a variety of commonly consumed liquids, students learned about the effects of certain products on teeth. After examining the color changes of the eggs, caused by certain liquids, students and their buddies ranked products in order of their negative effects on teeth and discussed the importance of brushing on a regular basis.

Vortex Cannon– LFA staff and volunteers facilitated a lesson on vortex cannons, devices that create powerful, circular-shaped puffs of air, to symbolize the force of both the diaphragm and the brain in powering the body.

Harvest Hope Hands-on Activities- Assorted enrichment stations such as; food group sort, heart rate measurement, fruit and veggie identification, creation of stress balls and self-health awareness, brought to us by College of Lake County, were set up alongside the grocery store so that, in addition to shopping, families could engage in hands-on learning around the importance of making healthy choices.