Orvis Risner students are getting to play the role of high schooler for a day!  Through the STEM Buddies program, funded by an EPS Foundation grant, fifth-graders from Orvis Risner head to Edmond Memorial Biology classrooms to participate in STEM activities with their ninth-grade “STEM buddy.”

This initiative was led by Edmond Memorial biology teacher Penny Antkowiak, with the help of Orvis Risner teacher Carrie Akins, and Orvis Risner STEM Coach Betsie Polk. The entire Orvis Risner fifth-grade team and Edmond Memorial biology teachers participate in this to give their respective students a memorable experience.

Prior to meeting in person, the “Bigs” (9th graders) and “Littles” (5th graders) wrote letters to each other and connected by sharing their names and a little bit about themselves.

STEM Buddies met in-person for the first time in September. Fifth-graders took a bus to Edmond Memorial, finally meeting their STEM Buddy. They participated in an activity titled “Hunting for the Water Bear.” Some fifth-graders even brought water from their playground to find tardigrades, or “water bears,” in their very own water samples! The ninth-grade biology students were prepared to answer questions, ensure lab safety, and explain how to find these “water bears.” They recorded observations in notebooks.

In October, STEM Buddies met to explore enzymes/chemical reactions, as well as discuss dental hygiene. In the theme of Halloween, students put strawberry syrup on vampire teeth. They then compared the effects of the different types of denture cleaners to remove it. Following this, each set of STEM Buddies were given a “budget” and some play money. They were able to purchase items to design a new toothbrush and use evidence to support their design.

There are two more STEM Buddy meetings left. High schoolers and fifth-graders alike are already asking for the next session!

By Anissa Angier-Dunn