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More than 200 Appalachian and community volunteers help Children’s Playhouse’s BuildFest

By Colette Winkler ’16 and Jenna Massengale ’16

BOONE—More than 200 people from Appalachian State University and the Boone community volunteered at Playhouse Buildfest, a signature event of the North Carolina Science Festival.

View larger imageAppalachian State University chemistry professor Dr. Michael Hambourger puts on a science show for all ages at BuildFest 2016. (Photo courtesy of The Children’s Playhouse)View larger imageA father and son build a tower together with stackable blocks. (Photo courtesy of The Children’s Playhouse)View larger imageLee Edwards, president of the Charlotte PCEA chapter, hauled a trailer of cardboard appliance boxes from Charlotte to help make a cardboard city. (Photo courtesy of The Children’s Playhouse)

Buildfest is the largest annual event hosted by The Children’s Playhouse, a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit children’s museum.

Each year BuildFest offers activities suitable for children of all ages, as well as activities specifically designed for children in preschool and grades K-3 and 4-6. Organizations and individuals from both Appalachian and the Boone community served as activity partners by sponsoring and running various STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) activities throughout the day.

“BuildFest involves months of planning, but it’s worth it to see how much the kids and parents love it,” said Kathy Parham, executive director of The Children’s Playhouse.

BuildFest 2016 activity partners included Appalachian’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, Department of Geology, Department of Chemistry, Department of Art, GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) and the Aging, Growth, & Experience (AGE) Labs.

Several of Appalachian’s student clubs and organizations also participated, including PCEA (Professional Construction Estimators Association of America), Child Advocacy Club, Physics & Astronomy Club, Appalachian Educators and 19 sororities and fraternities.

Community partners included the Watauga County Library, Thinkers Linkers by Murrah Woodcraft, Boone Bouncers Jump Rope Team & Club, Lynn Mountain Farm, BRAHM (Blowing Rock Art & History Museum), Mountain Alliance, The Children’s Council, Lettuce Learn and the Watauga County Extension Center.

“BuildFest brings together a variety of organizations from our community and shows how important a wide range of experiences can help build a child’s confidence in making healthy choices as well as igniting their love for learning,” said Courtney Baines Smith, director of Lettuce Learn, an organization in Boone that provides support and resources to educators and child care providers for garden growing as a means of education.

Sponsors of the event include OP Smiles Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentists, Drs. Mayhew, Scheffler, Conn and Hardaway and the North Carolina Science Festival, ECRS, The Retail Success Company, Mast General Store, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, Boone Drug, Bluebird Exchange, LifeStore Insurance, Pell’s Angels Painting, Blue Ridge Pediatric, Eggers, Eggers, Eggers, & Eggers Law Firm, Galileo’s, Boone Paint and Wendy’s Tar Heel Capital.

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