Lions Club supports Lego STEM Project

Esther Noe
Join the Hill City Lions Club (HCLC) for a basket bingo Saturday, Dec. 16. There will be holiday music, an ugly Christmas sweater contest, door prizes and of course bingo. 
“It’s just a fun time to get together for fellowship and to play,” said Stefanie Doaty, HCLC president.
The event kicks off at 5 p.m. with a free-will donation dinner including white chili, red chili and vegetable beef soup among other things. 
For every personal hygiene product, cereal, sugar or cooking oil brought in, attendees will receive an extra door prize ticket. These items will then go to the Hill City Food Pantry. There are door prizes for children and adults. 
“So everybody has a chance to win,” Doaty said. 
At 6 p.m. bingo will start. Cards are $1 each and one card is required to play each game. There will be 10 games total, and bingo winners will receive a pre-made gift basket. Some of the items included in these baskets are wine, wine racks, jewelry, gift certificates, gift cards and food. 
“We’ll have just a variety of different prizes,” said Doaty. The last basket will be the grand prize. 
Doaty added that “If there are any local businesses that want to help with donations for either door prizes or towards baskets, we are always willing and able to accept that.” 
After five games of bingo, there will be an intermission. During this, there will once again be a 50/50 raffle drawing. Raffle tickets are $1 each. The winner will receive 50 percent of the proceeds, and the other 50 percent will go to the Hill City Elementary School (HCES) Lego STEM Project (LSP). 
“We like to work with different organizations and different things in the community so for this bingo we will be donating the proceeds to the Hill City Elementary School Lego STEM Project,” said Doaty. 
Doaty saw a post online about the school’s desire to do the LSP and thought it would be a great thing for the HCLC to support. 
“We’re really big about helping our community and helping the kids,” said Doaty.
In the past, the middle and high school students had a Lego robotics program. 
Kathy Skorzewski, who is an interventionist at HCES, said, “I started to do a little bit of research into the Lego program because I actually started to work on Legos myself. They’re calming, and it’s something to do. It makes your brain think. So I started to look into it in use with children but of a younger age.” 
The elementary school was not part of the original Lego program, but “When I actually started to look at Legos, it has much more of a widespread impact, even with the younger children,” said Skorzewski. 
Lego Education makes sets with lesson plans. Skorzewski said, “There are several different things that are suitable for kids all the way from pre-kindergarten all the way up through fifth grade then to transition on into the higher levels and the higher thinking.” 
So Skorzewski spoke to the HSEC principal Samantha Weaver who gave Skorzewski the go-ahead to pursue the LSP. 
Skorzewski also spoke with special education and said, “They kind of developed an interest. They see it as a way to help kids at that young age so maybe they don’t have to require additional help. Maybe they can get that additional education out of it.” 
Skorzewski started putting things together to start the program, and a few people donated Lego Education sets. 
In the meantime, HCES had an After School Academy with third through fifth grade where the students did Lego STEM activities. 
“The kids learned how to build things. They learned about gravity. They learned about the science-related things, and it was really neat to see,” said Skorzewski. “The kids would measure distance. They used charting skills. They learned how to read rulers. So there was a lot of incorporation of things other than just science that came into this.” 
During the After School Academy the students built manually operated machines. One shot a basketball into a basket and another was a monkey that could lift weights. 
The two comments from students that stuck out to Skorzewski were, “Wow, we’re building machines here,” and “These aren’t the same Legos that I have at home.”
“I saw some really neat things coming out of there. I saw growth in kids,” said Skorzewski. She added that a soft-spoken girl started talking, some students took on leadership roles and other students worked together to accomplish a task. 
Looking further, Skorzewski found sets designed for kindergarten through second grade students with a lot of math skills. 
“It helps the kids learn their numbers. It helps with adding and subtracting,” said Skorzewski. “It’s just really a creative way to help the kids learn in a way that’s not traditional so they’re learning without knowing they’re learning.” 
After seeing a post by Skorzewski about the LSP, Doaty talked to the HCLC about supporting the program. HCLC is going to help the school with its initial needs to get the project started. 
“We couldn’t be happier. It’s a great way to show the community support in the school, and it really kind of highlights how important the kids are to us. I mean, they’re our future. They’re everything, and anything that we can do to help get the fundamental building blocks of their education is where we need to focus,” said Skorzewski. 
Right now HCES still needs $1,461 to complete their list for the LSP. This includes Lego Education sets like Lego Prime Essentials, SPIKE Essentials, Lego Coding Express, Tech Machines, STEAM Park and Lego Tubes. 
It is recommended to have two children per set, but Skorzewski has been able to stretch it to three. If the school can get more sets, there will be enough to handle a full class. 
Although Skorzewski does not currently know what the LSP will look like in the future, she is excited to have the tools available. 
“I’m hoping that perhaps as we start to get things, I might be able to work with the teaching staff. And if they’re looking for some type of lesson, we could come in and we could do one of the lesson plans for the whole group of kids,” said Skorzewski. “The neat thing is they don’t just put it together. They do testing. They do measurements. They do charting. They do comparisons. They do all that stuff that they’re just starting to experience as little kids.”`
Along with this, Skorzewski said, “What I like about it is not every kid is good with one, two, three, four, five on a piece of paper. A lot of them are good with their heads and their hands, and this gives the kids the ability to do that and use that in a safe environment.” 
All of the proceeds from the HCLC bingo will go toward the LSP. If they do not raise enough money, Doaty said the club will cover the rest of the amount needed. Those interested in donating to the LSP can contact the HCLC. 

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