First Time’s the Charm with a STEM + Families Math Night SPOTLIGHT: Riverdale Elementary PTA (Orlando, Fla.)

This post is part of a series authored by local PTA leaders who received STEM + Families Mathnasium Math Night grants. They share practical advice and lessons learned from planning and hosting their events.

When I found out I was in charge of hosting a STEM + Families Math Night I was excited, but also nervous. I had never done something like this before and I wanted it to run smoothly. With planning and community support it did!

The key to success for me was starting early. Our Math Night was scheduled for the end of January and I started planning in November. I knew I wanted to have some giveaway prizes and goodie bags for all the kids in attendance. I reached out to local businesses through email, online donation request forms and by phone. I was surprised at how many responded to me, and happy to donate gift cards and food.

I also reached out to a local high school’s STEM club sponsor. She put me in contact with some of her student members who were able to volunteer to work the event. In addition to the recruited volunteers, I relied on help from the school staff. I asked staff to volunteer and those that did were given comp’d time from the school principal. The math coach at our school gave me surplus math manipulatives, which I used in the goodie bags. The gift bags were given to each student in attendance.

In order to draw families to the event, I sent out flyers in English and Spanish. The school Parent Engagement Liaison also helped to advertise the event through phone messages and our school’s Facebook page.

Set-up was an area that was very helpful for the success of the night and saved us a lot of time. I drew a map of the cafeteria with a setup design of the tables and supplied this to the school custodian. On the day of the event the custodians moved all the tables where I wanted them using the map provided.

We had almost 200 people show up to our event. Pretty good for a Tuesday night at 6 p.m. The families had such a great time that the only complaint was it wasn’t long enough.

I learned a lot from hosting this event and would not hesitate to do it again.

Jennifer Sullivan is the PTA Secretary at Riverdale Elementary School PTA in Orlando, Fla.

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Disclosure: Mathnasium is a Proud National Sponsor of National PTA and a Founding Sponsor of National PTA’s STEM + Families initiative. The local PTA spotlighted in this blog was a winner of a 2018-2019 National PTA STEM + Families math grant, sponsored by Mathnasium. The author was not compensated for this blog post and the author’s opinions are his/her own.