Nicolina, Conner and Remy are full-STEAM ahead

Photo of the three kids
  • From United Way Quad Cities' October Good News e-newsletter. To get monthly updates delivered to your inbox, subscribe here.

Because of you, we’re getting closer to the day when every Quad Citizen has the access and opportunity to develop their full potential. 

With COVID-19 now affecting a third consecutive schoolyear, we know kids and teachers have faced, and continue to face, numerous struggles presented by the pandemic. We know that with mask mandates or arguments against them, vaccine debates, and continuing uncertainty, plenty has been said about the difficulties when it comes to this new schoolyear.

But what about positive things that are happening at the same time? We sat down with three Quad Cities students who are participating in a United Way-funded program with Implementing Partner, STEAM on Wheels, to ask how their schoolyear is going, how this year is comparing to the last year or two, and about their hopes and dreams for the future.

United Way is committed to better preparing and engaging young minds toward the pursuit of STEM-related education and careers. With the help of our Implementing Partners like STEAM on Wheels and committed donors and volunteers, we’re bridging the science, technology, engineering and math skills gap for more Quad Cities students and empowering a prepared workforce of tomorrow.

Your donation funds this essential work. Thank you for empowering students with positive people and productive opportunities that they need to be successful in school and life.
 

Nicolina Pappas
Age: 10
Grade: 5Nicolina Pappas
School: Grant Wood Elementary, Bettendorf

How did you feel when you learned that you would be going back to school in-person this year?
I was really happy because I got to see my friends. Last year was hybrid. I like being in-person, right there with the teacher, because you get to actually ask questions and I just feel more engaged. I like that I’m not just staying home with my bad internet issues, getting logged off of Zoom calls.

What are your favorite subjects in school?
I like math and writing.

What’s something you’re really enjoyed learning or working on this year?
It was something in science where we learned about constellations. We learned about it on the Smartboard and with online simulations.

What do you want to be or do when you grow up?
Either a doctor or marine biologist. I am very fascinated with sea life.

I actually have my own company, Nicolina’s Turtle Co. We sell $10 pouches for metal drinking straws so when you’re done using them, you can keep them clean instead of just like tossing it into your purse. I sell them at events with my mom, my sister, and always with my best friend. I started doing this because turtles are threatened by the plastic straws we throw away, and I’ve seen a lot of videos of turtles that have to have the straws removed from their nose. I’ve raised a couple of thousand dollars, and I donated it to places like Nahant Marsh and Niabi Zoo. I even donated money that helped 50 to 100 kids be able to go to camp at Nahant Marsh. That felt good.

Conner LudinConner Ludin
Age: 9
Grade: 4th
School: Edward White Elementary, Eldridge

How did you feel when you learned that you would be able to return to school in-person this year?
I actually liked being at home because then you had time at recess for video games. But my friend had Covid, so I was really happy when he came back to school.

What’s your favorite subject in school?
Math. I like my teacher, Mrs. Keeney. She’s nice.

What’s something you’re really enjoyed learning or working on this year?
A mini golf course.

What do you want to do or be when you grow up?
A YouTuber who cubes. That means solving Rubik’s cubes. I can solve all the way up four layers by four layers. I learned how to do it from a friend.

Remy AtkinsonRemy Atkinson
Age: 10
Grade: 5th
School: Rock Island Center for Math & Science

How did you feel when you learned that you would be going back to school in-person this year?
I was excited because I get to see my friends and hang out; that was very fun. It was way harder to learn online.

What are your favorite subjects in school, or part of the school day?
Probably English Language Arts. I also really like to draw. I do portraits of other people – I’m kind of good at doing that.

What’s something you’re really enjoyed learning or working on this year? 
We’ve been doing this thing in social studies where we write a paragraph about something and I did mine on how recess should be longer. Right now, it’s about 20 minutes long, and I wrote about how it should be more like 30-35. My teacher printed it out. Another good thing about this year is that I’ve had a lot of good grades.

What do you want to do or be when you grow up?
A governor, maybe like here in this state so I could make changes like fix the roads, because some of them are kind of messed up. And I would want to buy my own land and property.