Atlanta kids were given the chance to dance, build, experiment and play their way towards a love for learning this Sunday during the second annual [email protected] event.
[email protected] began as an event held by the Freshmen Activities Board (FAB) during the spring of 2008, which won the 2008 Burdell’s Best Award for “Best Short Term Service Project.” Due to the overwhelming success of the event, the [email protected] organization was formed to make it an annual event.
[email protected] brings together the Tech student body, student athletes and faculty with local area children to create friendships and bonds that spark excitement for a college education.
The organization is a non-profit philanthropy organization.
[email protected] connects with local Boys & Girls Clubs, nearby children’s shelters and other Atlanta-based children’s organizations to draw attention to the event. The day is filled with interactive science experiments, food and various fun activities with Tech faculty, students and staff.
Roddy Jones, sophomore A-back for the football Jackets, opened the event by giving his perspective on how success in school will prepare you for success in life.
Using Tech’s victory over UGA as an example, Jones made connections between hard work and rewards.
“Each of the kids has heard about Georgia Tech, either through ESPN because of our athletics or through their local schools because of our academic reputation. Now, they have experienced first-hand the opportunities that exist at this great institute,” said Jimmy Williams, second-year BME and president of the [email protected] organization.
After the opening speech, kids rotated between an egg drop contest, science experiments and recreation.
During the egg drop contest, kids used recyclables to fashion a protective casing for their eggs, which they later dropped off the balcony of the Student Center.
“[[email protected]] gets [kids] excited about learning… So often all you hear kids say is how they hate school, and I don’t think it has to be like that.
“As cheesy as it sounds, learning can be fun,” said Michael Valente, second-year ME and co-organizer for the event.
Valente said that one of his favorite things about the egg drop was the finish, in which one kid found his egg intact, and with an enthusiastic fist pump, chanted, “Victory is ours!”
Experiments involved examining strawberry DNA, making wax copies of silver dollars, flying rockets, seeing the effects of liquid nitrogen, making Silly Putty, interacting with dry ice and creating a Diet Coke and Mentos explosion, which is always a favorite among kids.
For recreation, kids were taught some choreographed break dancing from Dance Tech and also played indoor games with Tech students and athletes.
“The event was a great success, even despite the weather throwing wind, rain, sleet, hail and snow our way,” Williams said.
The event was originally planned for the Campanile area, but with the elements, mainly the weather, against them, organizers decided to make a last-minute move into the Student Center.
More than 80 kids attended the event, and even more Tech students were there to volunteer, in spite of the harsh conditions.
“We owe it to our surrounding community to foster a spirit of intellectual curiosity and growth, and this must begin at the earliest stages of academic development,” Williams said.
Valente also commented that the hardest part of the event was setting up the site. “The snow threw us off guard, and so for the four hours before the event most of us were running like chickens with our heads cut off.”
However, he said good teamwork made the change of plans less stressful.
Because of the success of this year’s event, [email protected] will strive to expand its target audience in the coming years to more areas.
“Last year and this year, we focused on bringing inner-city children to the event, but as the event and our base of interest has grown, we will be reaching out to all of the Atlanta Metro area next year,” said Williams.
If the weather had not been so disagreeable on Sunday, the event might have seen an even larger crowd.
According to Williams, they had been anticipating up to 250 kids.
To Williams, the most rewarding thing about the event was simply the excitement he could see on the faces of each of the kids.
Although he did not have a lot of time to rest, he said that when he finally took a moment to watch the kids dancing, he was reminded again that those looks on their faces are “why we do this.”
The experience Valente has had with [email protected] has also givn him a renewed appreciation for education.
“After the event was over there was that feeling of ‘We did this. Together we worked hard and we accomplished something that brightened a kid’s day and maybe even their future,” said Valente.
“[email protected] is something I am very proud of, and I hope everyone who was in involved is proud of it too,” Valente said.
The [email protected] organization recognized its corporate sponsors, namely NAPA Auto Parts, Coca-Cola, Capitol Insurance, PARTS Inc., Tech Student Foundation and the Georgia Tech Residence Hall Association for the financial support they provided, which made the event possible.