STEM Club hopes to raise $1,000 for supplies

Charles Ring and Stephen McNeil (2015 PHS graduate) – are pictured at a Stem Expo in that picture that shows miniature of plastic bottle greenhouse. (Submitted)

STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. It causes students to think critically and independently figuring out solutions for research projects. Right here at Portland High School, students in the newly formed STEM club are gaining valuable experience which their instructors are hopeful will benefit them beyond high school.

Of course to complete these projects, students need supplies readily available. Those interested in supporting the STEM club can either give monetarily as an official eco-supporter through FundingFactory, or by dropping off toner and inkjet printer cartridges at the school during normal business hours. Media Specialist Michelle Gilliam is hoping their fundraising efforts will pay off and give students the opportunity to both finish existing projects and to take on other new exciting ones.

“The STEM Club is new for us. We don’t have the funds yet, but we know we’re going to need some supplies,” Gilliam said.

Based on past, present and future projects, Gilliam sees good things ahead for the club.

“We have some kids working on the Verizon app. Challenge. They’re working on one for safe driving. We also have some that are going to finish the plastic bottle greenhouse from last year,” she explained.

Gilliam is the one in charge of writing grants when the club is in need of something. She has an active role with STEM as the students come to the library to do their research.

“We’ve written a grant and we’re hoping to make assistive devices for special education students. For instance, if someone needs a grabber or they have a deformed arm and they are unable to hold their paper to cut, they are in need of a device to hold the paper when it cuts. We don’t know what supplies we need for this just yet, but if we have some funds sitting in the STEM account, it would be there for whatever they need to get,” she added.

The projects don’t stop there, however.

“We have a group working on a solar panel. A long-term goal would be to do lighting in a chicken coop, where they study egg production, lighting, and they will need to figure out the amount of lights to get. The solar panels, app. Challenge, the greenhouse and compound machine are all things that are going to happen,” Gilliam explained.

Students form their own ideas and do the necessary critical thinking to solve problems and create solutions.

“STEM is pretty much a project based hands-on learning process. We feel that these projects will help them when they leave the school. It’s a great way for them to learn problem solving. We let them figure it all out,” she added.

“With the greenhouse, we let them figure out how to grow food for the entire year, how to put the bottles together, how many go in each row, how to insulate, and how to use doors, etc. We ask them “why” they do what they do. They have to do the research.”

Gilliam is joined by Julie Coots, (lead STEM educator and science teacher), Ginny West (health and science teacher), Brad Kirkham (Ag Science teacher), Tehra Lynn (Math), Heather Smartt (also Math).

“Anyone who wants to be involved with the STEM team is more than welcome to get involved,” she encouraged.

The first goal for the STEM club is to get over 50 eco-supporters, and they are hoping to raise at least $1,000.

To help the STEM club or to ask further questions, Michelle can be reached at 615-325-9201 or Donations can be made by coming by PHS or through the funding website

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