Students in the Fannin County Middle School STEM class got to experience walking and observing on a giant Mars map accompanied by a robotic rover that was awarded through a grant submitted by Mrs. Pack, the STEM Teacher. The grant was sponsored by Buzz Aldrin and the ShareSpace Foundation. To purchase the giant map and robot, this would have costed the school $5,000.00. However, with the grant, the school was able to receive it for free. The grant included a 25’ x 25’ giant Mars map, a set of books about the mission to Mars co-authored by Buzz Aldrin and Marianne Dyson, a remote controlled robot, as well as the curriculum to accompany the map and robot.
Blue Ridge, Ga – The first annual Blue Ridge Soap Box Derby raised $4,900 for Fannin County School’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) program on Saturday, April 27.
The derby race was created by locals to benefit the community, specifically the children. Co-founder Brian Higgins said, “We have festivals here almost monthly, but none of them are geared toward kids, so we wanted to do something for them, and the best part is all the money goes back to them with the STEM program.”
The founders chose to donate to STEM for a couple of reasons. According to Higgins, “[Science, technology, engineering, and math] is every bit a box car when you think about.” It takes each area to build and race a soapbox car.
Second, STEM doesn’t receive SPLOST dollars. STEM’s funding comes from the general school budget, which also pays for other school supplies.
STEM teaches students computational thinking and how to use scientific methods to solve real-world problems. The program helps children to develop technological skills to find highly-sought after jobs.
All the cars adhered to soapbox derby car standards, using only gravity as a propulsion system. Each car and driver were weighed during the race qualifying to ensure everyone had a fair chance during the derby.
Local businesses sponsored and helped the children to build over 26 cars for the derby. The participants brought their creativity to the cars’ design from that paint to the wheels.
49 drivers raced down the hill at Fannin County Middle School on a great day for it. The school even donated the cafeteria for the day, so the children and spectators would have a lunch area. Local vendors were on hand to provide food for everyone in attendance.
Broken into three divisions, drivers fell into either the 7-11, 12-17, or 18 plus age groups. The 7-11 bracket had to win two out of three races during the preliminary round. The winners from those races moved on to the single race elimination round. The 12-17 and 18 plus brackets raced only a single elimination round.
Winners for the 7-11 Division
First Place: Watson
Second Place: Pierce
Third Place: Williams
Winner for the 12-17 Division
First Place: Twiggs
Second Place: Higgins
Third Place: Preising
All winners received $250, $75, or $25, depending on where they finished in the race.
Derby organizers hope to expand the event in the future with participants from across North Georgia.
Last evening, April 2nd, the students of Fannin County Middle School participated in the Invent It Challenge. Winners were chosen for 1st and 2nd places, Most Original, and Best Seller. Below is a description of the Invent It Challenge for 2019.
The Invent It Challenge is an annual competition that inspires students around the world to unleash their inner inventor! The competition was created 8 years ago by Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center and Cricket Media, with the goal of educating, engaging and empowering kids across the globe to learn and use the invention process to make change in our world. Since then, thousands of kids around the globe have tried their hands at inventing through the Challenge, and many have gone on to patent their ideas!
Every year, students document their use of Smithsonian’s 7 step Spark! Lab Invention Process, to brainstorm new inventions to solve global problems. For the 2019 Dr. InBae Yoon Challenge, participants will focus their minds and talent on generating inventions that enhance and improve the daily lives and activities of older adults.
Often entire classroom of students enter either individually or as teams. Teachers and home school parents love it as their students get to apply their STEM skills in an engaging real-world challenge. The high-quality, free curriculum provided by the Smithsonian and Cricket Media make participating a smooth learning experience for students, educators, and parents alike.
(L-R) Gracey Greene, Gracie Stewart, Judd Watson
Students in Mrs. Pack’s STEM class at FCMS were asked to design a house that minimized heat loss. Once the framework of their houses is completed, the students will add different types of insulation to maintain the condition of the air inside. At the end of the project, the designs will be checked with a thermal energy device and the students will hear from an expert about saving energy.
West Fannin Elementary School’s ALPHA class had the opportunity to build a soapbox derby car from a kit provided by Blue Ridge Soap Box Derby founders Brian Higgins and Mike Sullivan.
Higgins and Sullivan brought to the STEM lab an unfinished car kit. The young men and women of the ALPHA class assembled the car with their guidance; drilling the holes, attaching screws to attach the pre-cut pieces together, gluing some pieces for added stability.
Filled with excitement at the team completion, Principal Lucas Roof allowed some students to ride the car down a hallway with Ms. Patterson supervising.
Tucker Rhodes, Brady Payne, Alexandria Banks, and Alexandria Cooks were excited to be able to drive the car down the hall. Rhodes had acquired permission from Roof to allow those students to ride down the hall in the newly built car.
Blue Ridge Soap Box Derby’s mission is “To provide Fannin County residents a family-centered event and directing all profits towards STEM Education in Fannin County Schools.”
The race will commence on April 27, 2019, in the Fannin Middle School parking lot, beginning at 10 a.m..
Car kits are available by contacting Sullivan or Higgins at BRSoapBoxDerby@gmail.com.
According to the Derby’s Facebook page, “Derby officials will be on hand to answer questions. The official rules and registration forms will be available. Among the registrations filled out and turned in at this event, six (6) will be randomly selected and completely paid for by Dairy Queen!”
Mark your calendars for both dates!
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Thanks for your consideration in sponsoring this community event! We are The Blue Ridge Soap Box
Derby, a 501c3 organization. With a festival or event almost monthly, there is always something exciting
to do here. However, most of the events are tourist driven and not geared towards kids in particular, so we
set out to change that. The Blue Ridge Soap Box Derby was created by locals and is geared towards the
local community, specifically kids and kids at heart. 100% of all profits go back to the Fannin County
School system, specifically the S.T.E.M program (Science.Technology.Engineering.Math). We hope this
will be a great success this year and many more years to come. Here is how YOU can help.
The different levels of sponsorships listed have a dollar amount listed for those wishing to contribute
monetarily; however, any combination of money and “in kind” services and/or donations will be
considered towards the total amount. The sponsor privileges below are a minimum and more perks may
be added as the Blue Ridge Soap Box Derby (BRSBD) progresses towards the event date. Thank YOU
for helping us make this event successful for the citizens of Fannin County, Georgia!
Vehicle Sponsorships: $150 – This special sponsorship is designed to assist those who are unable to
afford the vehicle materials and registration. It will provide both the materials and registration fee for a
participant and includes a 24”x24” sponsor sign displayed in the derby car “pit” area as well as a 12”x6”
sponsor license plate to be displayed on the vehicle. Additional graphics may be displayed on the vehicle
or the driver at the sponsor’s expense. (The sponsor may choose to be anonymous and we will work with
them to design a fitting sign/license plate.)
Executive Level: $1,000 – Executive level sponsors will be provided a 10’x10’ booth space at the event
to use for their own promotional purposes and are the ONLY sponsors allowed to solicit products or
services during the event. A 3’x6’ banner will be provided by the BRSBD and displayed in the most
prominent location. Executive sponsors will have their name prominently displayed in each derby car
“pit” area (24”x24”). The name of the business will be mentioned prior to every race category by the
event announcers. Executive sponsors will have their name listed on top of sponsor boards and/or
announcements and event t-shirts. NOTE: Only 5 Executive Sponsors will be accepted for the event and
will not have “competing services”; for example, if Real Estate Company X is an executive level sponsor,
no other “real estate company” will be accepted as an Executive Sponsor.
Diamond Level: $500 – This level of sponsorship will include 3’x6’ banner will be provided by the
BRSD and displayed at the derby starting area; have their name prominently displayed in each derby car
“pit” area (24”x24”). The name of the business will be mentioned prior to every race category by the
event announcers and will have their name listed on top of sponsor boards and/or announcements and
Platinum Level: $250 – This level of sponsorship will include 2’x4’ banner will be provided by the
BRSD and displayed alongside the track; have their name prominently displayed in each derby car “pit”
area (24”x24”). The name of the business will be mentioned prior to every race category by the event announcers and will have their name listed on top of sponsor boards and/or announcements and event t-
Gold Level: $150 – The name of the business will be mentioned prior to every race category by the event
announcers and will have their name listed on top of sponsor boards and/or announcements and event t-
Silver Level: $75 – This level of sponsorship will have their name listed on sponsor boards and/or announcements and event t-shirts.
Bronze Level: $25 – This level of sponsorship will have their name listed on sponsor boards and/or
We hope you’ll help support this awesome event and remember,
· We are an event for the local community by locals, but all are welcome of course!
· We are a 501 C-3, and volunteer-driven, NO ONE gets paid a dime.
· 100% of all the money raised after the bills are paid goes to the school system, specifically the
· We are working with the Boys and Girls Club to allow them to race for free (I’ll be building extra
cars for them)
· We’re also working on a getting Special Needs group together. They will be riding in tandem cars
with a driver, so they can experience the race as well.
· We will be reaching out to all of the surrounding Chamber of Commerce and school systems in
order to make it as big of an event as possible.
· It’s just going to be fun!
PLEASE contact Mike Sullivan (919-273-8315, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Brian
Higgins (706-455-9829, email@example.com) to become a sponsor.
Some third graders at West Fannin Elementary School were fortunate enough to visit with Tim Mercier of Mercier’s Orchards on Thursday, October 18th. Mercier’s has worked with 1st and 3rd-grade students for two years in their apple orchard beginning with helping to plant our 15 trees. These 15 trees are part of our on-going STEAM project. Students learn about our three different types of apples in our orchard (Arkansas Black, Gold Rush, Crimson Topaz). Students learn about the origin of the trees and how and when to plant the trees. Students also go out once a month and measure each tree and graph them in a bar graph. These graphs are then used to compare from month to month and from year to year the growth of the trees. As students were measuring this month they noticed that some of our trees were not growing as we had hoped and that there were some brown spots on our leaves. As they were researching they wanted to ask Mercier’s to come back and see our trees and help us to diagnose our problems. Mr. Mercier was kind enough to come out and share with our students. These students will now go back and redeliver the findings to the rest of the third-grade students. As the kids would say, “ We now know our problem so now we will start planning on how we will create a solution to solve this problem.”
Picutred at the top: Tim Mercier, Brody Graham and Keats Miller (2 boys in front), Josalyn Deal and Sadie Patto