The COVID-19 pandemic brought new learning opportunities for STEM students at Altheimer and Kansas City in the Kansas City Teen Summit STEM Connection.

This summer, Kansas City Teen Summit implemented a virtual hands-off environment to address the question of safety, Brenette Wilder, president of Kansas City Teen Summit, said in a news release.

For a number of years, her agency has promoted a summer program involving students at Kansas City and her former hometown, Altheimer.

This summer, the Urban Heat Effect climate control project was among efforts conducted by students at home and with the collaboration of KC Streetcar and Powell Garden.

“The climate control project outcome identified urban communities as having the higher temperatures overall, being most at risk of having health problems linked to higher heat, and potentially higher energy consumption compared to rural or suburban communities,” according to the release. “Heat maps retrieved from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association show that Arkansas and Missouri average temperatures rank above average. We believe that by implementing changes like planting trees and vegetation to absorb carbon dioxide or incorporating building materials, like wood, can help decrease greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere.”

The Kansas City Teen Summit summer program also had success with students learning math, biology, chemistry, career readiness, writing, budgeting, data analysis, yoga and community engagement.

“The largest gain in education was found in Bio/Chem where 20%-200% improvement was realized between pre and post-test. The greatest community impact was realized during our volunteering activities (food pantry and feed and read’,” according to the release.

From April to July, children received sack lunches during the feed and read program. This program helped to subsidize family income and replace lunches missed during school closings.

“The total number of families and children impact opportunities due to our volunteering services were 911. Students working property clean-up and restaurant service jobs were limited to 3-4 students at one site with distancing, gloves and mask wearing requirements,” according to the release.

Summer projects wouldn’t have been successful without assistance from supporters, according to Wilder.

“So, allow me to publicly give my expression of praise to a few people and groups,” she said.

“Dr. Charles Colen and other professors at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff provided virtual STEM classes for us. Subject matter experts (Mrs. Delores French, Dr. Catera Wilder, Mrs. Teresa McGarry, Miss Kalia London) trained our students virtually in subjects like personal budgeting, career readiness, and data analysis,” according to the release.

“Three teens (Neveah Love, Alexandria Mays, and Damari Cranford) and their lead teacher (Mrs. Amy Lowe) mentored children in reading virtually online. Mr. Phillip Coleman, DeMonte Walker, KaMarius Manning, and JaKorbyn Tyler partnered with Altheimer, AR, Mayor to make properties safe and clean,” according to the release.

“Caylin Mack, Kennedi Scaife, and Abriunna Dendy supported a neighborhood restaurant, Kim’s (owned by James Washington). Ten students (including students from ThrYve – under University of Kansas), KC Streetcar, and Powell Botanical Garden Missouri, were willing to collect temperature measurements, create graph, and/or gather temperature maps from June to July for an Urban Heat Effect study. Students (Charis Gines, Kyle Connor, Christopher Conner, Yahaira Lopez, KaySee Than, Kalia London, Gohan Mendez, Mary Olaez, Erikah Jones, Amaya Thompson, and Damari Cranford) virtually presented their findings to donors and supporters,” according to the release.

Wilder thanked donors including Ben J. Altheimer Foundation, Sunflower Health, Entergy, ThrYve University of Kansas, Andrew Pitts, Kansas City Streetcar, Powell’s Botanical Garden, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Heartland Book Bank, Randall Ferguson, Loinel Fleming, Wilder family, friends, volunteers, and community members.

“It goes without saying that we believe education and community engagement will help our service area grow stronger. We hope that you agree and will join us in our future endeavors and consider sponsoring our 509 (a)2 public charity organization under 501 (c)3 next year,” Wilder said.