“Thanks for teaching me science!” The boy said to Amanda as she gathered her things to go. “Of course!” she replied, with her bright eyes and animated smile. She walked out and into the next classroom, but not before whispering, “Look at me, a history major teaching science.” It may not have been her major, but she really knows her stuff. Our Explorers are trained on STEM activities and do dozens of them a year. They bubbled with excitement and confidence as they walked into Lehi Elementary School to teach them about engineering, structures, and problem-solving for United Way’s Day of Caring.

Day of Caring is United Way’s biggest event of the year, with hundreds of volunteers from various companies coming together to serve their community. This year’s Day of Caring involved 72 service projects all throughout Utah County. United Way of Utah County’s Marketing Manager, Danielle Moran said, “The biggest thing that we want to show is the impact that our community has on each other. So, it’s people from our community from different companies, partnering with schools and different agencies, to come together and serve them, but also just being able to see the impact that those volunteers are going to be making.”

This year’s Day of Caring began in two different locations. Volunteers met in Provo at Nu Skin Plaza, and here at our very own Thanksgiving Point Water Tower to fuel up before the service began. Volunteers enjoyed some pancakes, bacon, and eggs, as well as games and prizes before they were sent off to different schools, community centers, and rehabilitation centers. Members of the Learning & Engagement team hopped in our can’t-miss-it pastel purple explorer van and headed to Lehi Elementary School.

The six Explorers split up to cover 18 different classes in 3 hours. They passed out stacks of index cards to each table in the classroom. The challenge? Make a structure 30 inches tall that can bear the weight of a wrapped pack of index cards. The catch? You can only use index cards. No tape. No glue. Nothing else. The students had five minutes to build their first structure. Admittedly, most of them fell down. They were taught to brainstorm and ask more questions before jumping to a solution. They tried again. They were taught the importance of testing their structures. They learned to fail, and that failing was okay, often necessary, as long as you always try again utilizing the information you gleaned from your failure.

Each room buzzed with discussion, loud reactions to their tumbling towers, and triumphant cheers when their buildings withstood the weight.

On a scale of 1-5, the overwhelming majority held up at least three fingers when asked if they enjoyed the activity and if they learned something.

As the Explorers finished up and walked back to the car, there was no need to ask them for their rating. “A ten out of ten,” Morgan said. “I loved that.”

Nicole Soderquist, the school’s librarian who helped organize the volunteering projects, said, “I think for these students to have people in the community take the time out of their busy schedules to come in and do fun activities with them, it helps them see the value in a community. I also think when they see people from different walks of life, it helps them see their future potential and different things they might be able to do in the community when they get older.”

Thank you to United Way of Utah County for letting us participate in this year’s Day of Caring. We also express deep gratitude to Lehi Elementary School for letting us learn and have fun with their students today and to our group of amazing Explorers for the energy and passion they bring to every activity.