Record Turnout with a STEM + Families Game Night!


This post is part of a series co-authored by local PTA leaders who have hosted a STEM + Families ThinkFun Game Night. They share practical advice and lessons learned from planning and hosting their events.

Mount Vernon Community School in Alexandria, Va. was not a winner of a STEM + Families ThinkFun Family Game Night grant, but the event just looked too fun to miss out on entirely! The Math Dice game was such a hit with their students, and they wanted to create a creative concept around this popular game. Their PTA reached out to ThinkFun to create a personalized event for their students: A Math Dice Tournament.

This event was a team effort between Mount Vernon Community School PTA, Mount Vernon Community School’s principal and ThinkFun. For additional assistance, Mount Vernon PTA worked with ACPS’s Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Center, who provided dinner at the Math Dice Night.

It was an extremely successful night for Mount Vernon Community School PTA and their students. The PTA expected approximately 30 people to attend, including students and parents, but over 100 people showed up!

A couple of notable highlights from the event that made it such a success:

  • Teachers were engaged! Students had an opportunity to play the games in their classes prior to the event. This ensured they were already excited about the Game Night and the Math Dice Tournament before they arrived.
    • It’s also helpful to have your teachers attend the event to help with game instructions and manage all the families that attend.
  • Prize giveaways! Mount Vernon PTA’s event featured a prize giveaway sponsored by ThinkFun, which was really exciting.
  • Family engagement! Volunteers were very intentional about getting parents involved in their child’s learning and engaged in playing the games themselves. It was wonderful bonding opportunity for families after school.
  • Food! Mount Vernon Community School PTA provided pizza and drinks available to all families, a fabulous addition to the event! In this case, ACPS’s Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Center helped co-host the event and provided food to the school.

A few lessons learned:

  • Find the right space. Mount Veronon PTA’s Math Dice night was hosted in the cafeteria, but it turned out the space was not big enough for the huge crowd the event received! The great turnout was one of the big successes of the night, but the space wasn’t right for the size of the event.
  • Make sure your space doesn’t have competing events. Sometimes the school’s venue is double booked with another after school program. If your PTA can pre-plan for this hurdle and coordinate how to share the space effectively prior to the event, it will be beneficial for everyone!
  • Have a plan for crowd control. When you receive a great turnout, sometimes the noise volume makes it hard to give instructions to the group while families are chatting. Having your teachers and volunteers knowledgeable about the game rules can help while the event is going on, to give instructions to smaller groups rather than speaking to everyone at once.

Overall everyone had so much fun playing for fun and the families—especially the kids—loved the raffle for the prizes. Mount Vernon Community School’s PTA is busy as they plan another big schoolwide STEM + Families themed event, a Global Science Night.

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Disclosure: ThinkFun is a Supporting Sponsor of National PTA’s STEM + Families initiative. The local PTA spotlighted in this blog is Mount Vernon Community School located in Alexandria, Virginia. The contributing authors were not compensated for this blog post and the author’s opinions are his/her own.


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