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STEM grows learning at Hickory Creek
Hickory Creek first-grader Harley Peterson carefully studies a plastic jar filled with candy before guessing how many pieces of chocolate are inside. The answer is 172.

Hickory Creek fourth-grader Noah Pack wasn’t going to take a wild guess at how many pieces of chocolate were stuffed in a plastic container. He was going to apply his math skills.
“I counted how many there were from top to bottom and then I multiplied by the number of sides,” said Noah.
That sort of thinking is exactly what educators at Hickory Creek Elementary aimed to promote when they held a STEM night Tuesday. There were all sorts of challenges sprinkled around the school requiring children to use STEM skills -- science, technology, engineering and math.
There was a scavenger hunt where students had to search for different shapes. Estimating the number of chocolates in a container was also a mathematical test.
One of the more unique activities was an escape room where participants had to solve equations in an effort to open a secret suitcase containing fabulous prizes. The suitcase was secured by four locks. Each correct equation answer was the combination to one lock.
“It’s been cool seeing the kids work together to solve the problems and listen to each other’s ideas,” said Hickory Creek instructional coordinator Jackie Smith, who helped organize the escape room. “The answers to the puzzles unlock the box. They have to solve four separate puzzles, then find a key, to open it.”
Educators didn’t need a special formula to determine STEM night was a success. The halls were crawling with students and their parents.
Principal Mike Mansfield said 350 people confirmed their attendance, which gave school officials an idea of how much food to order. Families were treated to free pizza and drinks.
“This is designed to get students to do some problem solving, use their estimation skills, and focus on math, science and technology,” said Mansfield. “It’s gone really well. All the kids are given flash cards to take home with them and we’re feeding everybody. I think that helped.”